Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Time And Time

The question is not one of time, but of the kind of time.

I have the time in the course of a full day. What I do not have is the time alone, without distractions or the press of others' needs.

While I write this, I could be working on a new idea for a novel. There is too strict a limit on the kind of time I need to let the ideas rumble around in the brain. I have time, but not much of that time.

So instead of trying to craft a paragraph in a few minutes that will drive a narrative that I cannot quite follow because I need more than a few minutes to get my head back into the early Nineteenth Century, I will just note that Susan Golomb is packing up her literary agency and moving it to Writer's House.

Ms. Golomb has had her own agency since 1990. Twenty-five years of agenting. A long time. And we do not grow younger as the years slide by.

The cost of operating an office is a burden to anyone whose industry is declining. Fewer books are sold these days, as compared to twenty-five years ago, and the competition among literary agents to acquire those blockbusters so much in demand has only increased. It's a young person's game, perhaps, and Ms. Golomb has seen the wisdom in sharing some of those costs with a bigger agency. She may end up making more money in the long run, reducing her expenses by abandoning her own office, even if a portion of her commissions will go towards office maintenance. By sharing, it is likely to be less, and there is a benefit in reducing a financial burden as you get older and the energy starts to decline.

At some point that she can see more clearly because the horizon is not quite so distant anymore, her stable of clients will need a representative to tend their needs while she eases into retirement. Even literary agents don't live forever. What could be more considerate than to put them into a safe place, where they will be looked after when she can no longer look after them?

That's what happens with time. Eventually, it runs out and you have to move on to other things. You just hope that you don't leave anyone dangling, alone in the cold, cruel world of authors without agents.

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