And that was where I stopped dead.
Because I realized something. Let's just imagine the best-case scenario -- that I send out a really brilliant query letter, and that the agent in question gets all excited and contacts me to see if he can represent my book. I can see the subsequent conversation going like this:
AGENT: I'm really impressed with your work. And I know just the editor who would be interested in this fantasy novel of yours -- Knife. In fact, I bet that XYZ Publishing House snaps it up within the month.
ME: Really? Wow! That's great.
AGENT: So, I think you have a promising writing career ahead of you. Do you have any more manuscripts I might be able to shop around?
ME: Um. Well, no.
AGENT: Oh, I see. Still working on the next book, eh? When did you write Knife, by the way?
ME: Um, 1993.
AGENT: [startled pause] Did you say 1993?
ME: Well, I revised and re-edited it in 1999 or so, when I submitted it to the Warner Aspect First Novel contest. But yeah.
AGENT: And you haven't written anything original since then?
ME: A few chapters here and there, but nothing anywhere near completion.
AGENT: Do you plan to write anything more soon?
ME: Uh. Well, I have a two-year-old and a four-month-old at the moment, and they keep me pretty busy. So I haven't really been able to focus on writing very much.
AGENT: Do you see yourself getting back into serious writing any time soon? Say, within the next two or three years?
ME: Er... probably not. I'm not sure I'm finished having kids yet.
AGENT: So, what you really mean is that you're not willing or able to pursue an active writing career at this time in your life.
ME (sheepishly): I guess not.
AGENT: Well, Ms. Anderson, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to withdraw my offer to represent you. I have to make a living, you see, and even if I could be sure of selling your first novel, it's just not worth my time and effort to represent an author who can't commit to writing more than one book.
ME: Yeah, I can understand that. Okay, thanks anyway.
So, much as I hate to disappoint those who've been urging me to get published, I think that on a practical level this is just not the time. Until I have something more to offer an agent or publisher than just one book, it simply won't be worth it to them to take me on. And right now I really can't commit myself to writing full-time, or even regular part-time, so...
But I really do appreciate your encouragement.