When I look back, even though I owned an art gallery for ten years, and another small business for five years that I sold in 2005, I've always been a writer. While running the gallery and the other business, I always made sure I was in at least ten books each year with short stories. And at least ten magazines each year. I didn't have time to do more as far as getting published goes, but I also wrote a novel a year, too. I did this on slow days at the gallery, and owning a business like that allowed me some free time to concentrate on writing and getting published. I'd worked as an editor for three large publications and I found that when I was finished working for the day, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down and write my own work.
The gallery was fun and interesting and I loved my clients. I repped over a hundred different artists over the years, and handled everything from promotions to the final sale. I met interesting people from all over the world, and it was nice to know that I'd sold them something they'd cherish for the rest of their lives. But I also felt a little strange about selling everyone else's work full time and only concentrating on my own part time.
And then I became friends with someone who started out as an art client. He walked into the gallery one day and bought a painting, and we clicked. We became very good friends. He didn't know I was a writer, because I rarely ever tell anyone that unless I know them very well. He thought I was a gallery owner. But he told me his profession right away. It turned out that he was a well known literary agent, with a long list of popular clients, who at that time had been in the business for over twenty years. A dream come true? Not exactly.
Ultimately, I decided that if we were going to continue our friendship, I'd have to refrain from asking him to read my work. I knew his reputation was excellent, but if I started querying him as a writer, our friendship might suffer. Maybe it wouldn't have suffered. But I've always believed in not mixing business with pleasure. So he didn't even find out I was a writer until two years after I met him.
But I think I made the right decision, because we've been the best of friends for over ten years now. We take vacations, we celebrate birthdays and holidays...we're there for each other when illness hits family members, other friends, and pets. And we even talk about publishing now. He's been there to offer simple advice about contracts, and I've even passed a few clients his way that I thought he might like. And when I found my own agent, he was there to offer support and congratulations.