Most writers I know always show their novels to other writers before they dare to show it to the beloved agents. You don't want to make a fool of yourself, after all or have your agent wondering whatever he or she saw in you in the first place! Mostly there is a bartering system going on (I will show you mine if you show me yours) or sometimes money changes hands, but truly all writers understand the agony of letting a manuscript go and the need for said ms. to be as perfect as possible. I have a few beloved readers, and I bartered with one who helped on my synopsis and my pages with the offer of a handknit sweater. We trekked uptown to Knitty City where I wanted to buy everything in the store and she chose the most delectable yarn--part silk, part cotton, part mysterious fiber--in this rich green. I couldn't wait to knit it! So knit I did, six inches all the way around when I got terrible asthma from the yarn! This is mysterious! This is appalling! But what made it even more strange was that for the whole four years I have been writing my last novel I haven't had any asthma and one of the characters is a child with severe asthma. As soon as I finished final revisions: BOOM. Lungs crunch up. Breathing is at a premium.
After dashing to the pulmonologist (meds are a wonderful thing), I decided the yarn was toxic to me, but I couldn't let it go. So thank you, thank you to a friend who offered to knit the rest, and thank you to my fabulous friend Sarah who was also considering doing me the favor and was just as warm and wonderful about taking on the task as she could be. Sarah has this very cool blog called two pointy sticks and she's also one of my favorite people on the planet.
So my sweater project is now in good hands and my asthma is gone! And I have ten pages of a new novel!