Tuesday, July 6, 2010

To the Nines

Was online today discussing with other writers what they would like to/think they "should" wear for a meeting with an agent. It was interesting how reverse-snobby some people are about those who might choose to treat a meeting of this sort as if it were (*GASP!*) a professional meeting. Not that agents actually care; but the sense from one or two, at least, was that anyone not prepared to wear their cowboy hat, or revolver, or schmoopy fairy outfit, or sclubby slob wear was somehow actually not quite right (serious!) as a writer. To which I say: it's possible to have more than one gear, people. Good grief.

Anyway - my contribution. I liked it enough to replicate it (yes, with edits - dur) here.

One of the things I have hated most about unemployment is the unending parade of "dog walking pants" I have been wearing every day. I worked for about a decade and a half in financial services and other executive offices, and I have missed the opportunity to dress professionally very much. Those who dismiss professional dress are entitled to their opinions, but ... not to determining *mine*. Wearing suits and good clothing doesn't diminish my writing, nor cheapen my intellect somehow as a sellout. I like them, but I am much more than professional clothes; nor does my writing doesn't require me to costume myself as if I were one of my own characters, or as "An Author", or anything else. If I had a formal meeting with an agent, I'd simply feel most comfortable in heels and hose. That's ME. But it doesn't make me some sort of empty-headed dilettante - nor does it make me self-conscious, more concerned with appearance than content, nor some kind of wannabe hoping a good blazer will do for me what my hard work and talent can't

For ME, a suit happens to have a sense of occasion about it. That feels good to ME.

Here's the thing. I loathe and despise the idea of dressing the same way all the time. The number of people who express the desire to do exactly that, and by those who simply DO it, flat-out floors me. Doesn't matter which type people go for; any type, with no variation at all, is a deadly bore. Women who are made up all the time, men who can't get out of the (way oversized) Dockers and golf shirts, goth kids who NEVER put down the eyeliner - I don't discriminate based on genre; I'm astounded at *any* of these people's dedication to genre dressing. I like to be a bit of a vixen on a Saturday night, a sleek professional on weekday mornings; I also revel in being the middle-aged suburban hausfrau I undeniably am in my down time, with my dog.

I'd be bored out of my mind being any one of those things ALL THE TIME, forever, amen. My consideration of dressing for any occasion - agent meetings or anything else - is born of how much more interesting it is not to be the same old visual bore all the time. I clean up well, as they say. So I like to do it.

More to the point, it really is amazing how much more comfortable those dog-walking pants are after I've spent my day out in the world with actual human people, working for a living, put together to the nines ... and finally getting to come home and peel off all the accoutrements of professional battle. At the same time, jeans or what have you just AREN'T that comfortable if you wear them all the time; no matter the venue, whatever the dress code is. I've worn jeans to work. I've been unemployed for even longer stretches than this most recent stint. I swear by my heels and business clothes. I have lived, lately, for the opportunity to dress for church.

For the record, all of my agent meetings so far have taken place at my annual Conference. For this two-full-day occasion, I generally wear slinky black pants and some sort of bold colored tee, and oxford shoes for comfort. I've gotten two requests for reads thus casually dressed (out of, I think, four agent meetings conducted there ... this doesn't count the agent my very first year who passed on to a colleague of hers a partial of something which was hardly even a WIP at the time, nor ever became one).

Anyway - the point is: I know a suit is not ALWAYS the thing. But dang if I wouldn't treat a potential "getting agented" for real meeting as a more professional situation. And bloody love it.

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