Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

A New Step

“One step done and another begun and I wonder how many miles”–New Speedway Boogie, Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia

Entering senior year of high school, my biggest concern wasn’t whether or not I’d get to go to the college of my choice (I did) or whether I’d get to go to the prom with the girl of my choice (I didn’t); no, my biggest worry was what I would write for my senior quote.

The quote was a 30-word blurb that would appear in  the yearbook underneath my picture. Unlike the Magpie, who had something like a half a page to play with in her yearbook, we had a whopping thirty words. It was like twitter without the hashtags, only know one knew what twitter was, because it didn’t exist. After a lot of worry and scratching my head, I finally came up with something that I liked. It led off with a quote from a Grateful Dead song (you’re surprised by this?), managed to reference my friends, and paid homage to my family. It was pretty good, I think, except someone screwed up the song lyric, turning “Gonna leave this brokedown palace” into “brokedown place.” I was a bit upset about that, you can bet.

At the time, I was actually thinking ahead. Long-range planning, as it were. The way I figured it, if they did senior quotes in high school, surely they would have them for college. So, there I was, a high school senior, trying to come up with an appropriate song lyric for something that was going to happen four years later. And of course, I did. And, of course, I went back to the Grateful Dead, the lyric quoted at the top of this post: “One step done and another begun and I wonder how many miles.” It’s a great line, and I thought it would make sense at that point in my life, graduating from college. I was all set.

Of course, we didn’t have senior quotes in college.

Truth be told, I don’t even think I have a college yearbook. If I do, I can’t find it, but no matter, because by the time I got to that point, I was no longer worrying about senior quotes; it just didn’t seem as important as it had in high school. The lyric, however, has remained with me to this day, and it often comes back to me when I find myself on the cusp of something new, when I find myself at the start of a new stage of life. Like now. I am thrilled to say that this week, I signed an agreement with Carrie Pestritto of the Prospect Agency, and I am thrilled. Carrie has a growing list of clients, a growing list of sales, and she’s enthusiastic about agenting, and my work. We hit it off really well, and I am looking forward to a long and successful partnership.

But now, back to that quote: One step done and another begun, and I wonder how many miles? The lyric is a reminder to me that getting an agent is not the end of this journey, it’s merely a step on what is still a long road. The real goal is getting published, and getting published well. I believe we writers sometimes get so consumed in the search for just the right agent that we forget that goal. Getting the right agent is just one step; now it’s on to the next. I have enjoyed the moment, but it’s time to get back to work, time to take that next step.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

6 Responses

  1. Congrats on getting an agent and I wish you all the best on your writing and publishing journey. Every steps takes you to your next destination. May you take many steps.

  2. Thank you so much, everyone–I appreciate it, and am thankful for all the support and encouragement you've given me these last couple of years.

  3. The Prospect Agency is excellent – BIG CONGRATS – I'm so happy for you!! It takes time, but it's so worth it when you get there.

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