Agents and Drill Sergeants

        Whew, I had no idea I was gonna create such a stir about agents.  Lord have mercy.  (L.H.M.)  Now, before I go getting everyone all tore down about my agent, I figure I’d better explain.

        You see, agents are a lot like drill sergeants, ’cause they have to be.  And before I stir up another hornet’s nest let me also clarify- if I were King of the World, there would be no wars.  I’d lasso planet Earth and turn it around going backwards if it took it, but somehow everyone who had their differences would have to sit down at the negotiation table and figure out where the middle ground was. 

        Of course, if I was to run up on a bear in the woods, I’m the kind of fellow who  wouldn’t try to outrun him, ’cause I know I can’t.  Instead, I’d show him the way down to the river where all the good fishing was, and hope he left me alone.  Remind me to tell you more on that story some day. 

        And by the way, I ain’t gotten a single vote for King of The World yet, and doubt I will except from my mom. 

        But going back to agents and drill sergeants, it’s like this.  When folks are in boot camp, nobody likes the drill sergeant.  He has to be mean.  In reality, it ain’t mean, he’s just tough.  The reason he pushes everyone so hard is he knows if he’s gonna send ‘em off somewhere where people are gonna shoot at ‘em, they better be prepared.  I never was in boot camp; as a matter of fact, I was probably too contrary at that age to survive it, but I’ve been told that drill sergeants often worry about the ones that don’t make it back home.  They try not to think about it too much, or they might start to wonder if they had been a little tougher, maybe the kid woulda somehow made it.  Ain’t true, but you can’t help but think that way sometimes. 

        Sort of like in my doctor work.  Every time you lose a patient to anything other than just plain old age, you lay awake at night and toss and turn, and try to think of anything else you might have done.         

        I knew a doc who wrote a song one time called “I’ll Do All My Crying Ahead of Time.”  Ostensibly, it was a “boy loses girl” song, but really it was about losing patients.  Like that Doc, when it comes to funeral time, I go when I can, and try not to cry too much.  I want to believe I’ve done all my crying, and thinking, ahead of time.

        Well, agents are like that too, except the stakes aren’t as high.  They know if they throw you to the print wolves before your work is ready, that crowd probably won’t negotiate with you like I would with that bear, but just eat you alive.  So, like sergeants, the agent has to prepare you the best they can, and this means being tough.  When I meet with mine I check my ego at the door, hand him a bunch of red pens, and smile.  The process ain’t for the faint of heart, but it’s for my own good.

          And too, my agent needs to take heart.  I not only respect him, I like the guy.  Besides, I have found everyone of those cats who comes home from a combat zone likes their drill sergeant, without fail. 

        So, again, the stakes ain’t as high, but if I ever get to say what I aim too say in print, to a large degree it will be because my agent, like those drill sergeants, is tough.  And for a laissez-faire bluegrass boy like me, it is a necessity.  I’m bad not to take marching orders without a kick in the you know what.  He ain’t afraid to do it, and his aim is pretty good, too, so me and my agent get along O.K.

Dr. B

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2 Comments on “Agents and Drill Sergeants”

  1. Ted Lehmann Says:

    We should all have a caring, judge to work with who we trust, like, and rely on. Sometimes, however, tough is just another word for mean. It’s in knowing the difference that we really get tested. I think of all the people I worked for during my other life whose comments and so-called help were more focused on their needs than the “other.” Recognizing such defensiveness and learning not to respond to it is as important as recognizing our own and knowing when to really listen. Teaching, writing, medicine…all cut from the same cookie. – TEP

  2. drtombibey Says:

    I am lucky, in that my agent seems to be focused on improving my writing. He must be sincere- so far the 15% commission is not going too far. He’d be better off picking bluegrass for money. Oh well, as the old bluegrass saying goes, “We ain’t having any fun at this, but at least we make a lot of money!”

    -Dr. B


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