For the heck of it, I took one of those Jungian-based Briggs Meyer personality tests this week. I had never put much stock in such things – until I took it. Whoa. The results were shockingly accurate, and put a few things into focus and perspective for me.
I am apparently what’s known as an INTP-T. This personality type is often called “the thinker” or “the logician” or “the seeker.” It is described as “the most independent and philosophical of the 16 personality types.” People like me make up about 3 percent of the population. We are obsessive about things that interest us, and don’t much enjoy small talk. We are introverted in some ways, but can be extraverted if we are interested in something. If we’re not interested, we suck at faking it. We aren’t usually invited to parties, and that’s just fine with us because we’d rather be home with a book anyway. We like looking for patterns and are exceedingly logical – which frustrates people close to us because we seem combative when in fact we are just pointing out discrepancies in patterns. We are loyal and love deeply, but we are kind of clueless about other people emotional needs sometimes. Okay, frequently. We are exceedingly honest, which doesn’t go over well in the world of business or anywhere that we need to kiss ass to get ahead.
INTP’s are well suited, unsurprisingly, to professions like writing – where we can be alone with our thoughts and imaginations and where we don’t have to obey anyone. One description of my type even said “Others may only encounter INTP’s inner world through encounters with their work, such as by reading something they’ve written. This may explain why many INTPs often take interest in writing, which provides an excellent forum for expressing themselves more fully and precisely.”
It has been a bit of relief to read that I am normal, for my type, and that there is nothing wrong with me for not ever fitting into a corporate environment. One piece I read about INTPs and career path was clear in saying that we need to be allowed to work freely and mostly alone on our own ideas, and that we are the people responsible for most innovation in science and the arts. True dat.
But it also mentioned something I had not really given enough thought to – which is that even though INTPs like to THINK we need to work alone, we also really REALLY need a reliable partner in crime – an agent or business partner who truly sees and values our genius and is able to find a way to get that work to the outside world.
For years I have tried to figure out why my novel-writing career kind of petered out, even though I have still been furiously writing books. The reason, in this new light, is clear. Leslie is gone.
Early in my book career, I was lucky to have a wonderful agent named Leslie Daniels. She was herself a writer, and well-versed in psychology, a sensitive and smart woman who became not just my agent, but also my coach, editor and friend. She was able to see the genius in my ideas, and was able to understand that I had a personality that meant I would often send out very early drafts for feedback, and could then turn around and implement polished edits in a matter of hours or days. She was nurturing, kind and we just clicked. She was exactly what I needed. She saw me. And she also saw where I could fit.
Leslie left agenting to become a writer, and things have just never been the same for me. I’ve had a couple of other agents, but they have not been writers or as sensitive and aware of my personality and needs as a damaged but somewhat brilliant person. They’ve been salesmen and saleswomen who wanted only to get a polished product and not be part of the process. But I need someone to be part of the process. That’s how I work.
I’m very glad I took that test, and that these issues have come to light for me. I now realize that there hasn’t been anything wrong with my writing all these floundering years. I just haven’t had the right partner. I need a new agent. One who gets me.
My early years as a journalist happened because of another such mentor/partner/champion – Lincoln Millstein, an editor who saw genius in me and served as my advocate and as a buffer between me and the rest of the world.
I need a new Leslie, a new Lincoln. But where to find them? I have a bunch of manuscripts, and millions of ideas. This scares most agents away. It never scared people like Lincoln and Leslie, because they could keep up with me mentally, but were also agile negotiators.
With the right partners, I could make a lot of money for all of us. Without them, I make nothing and end up beating my head against the wall trying to get a “normal” job – which never ends well.
I was put on this earth to do one thing: create. It is the only thing I’m good at – and I am really good at it. But being good at creating things doesn’t matter if you’re just doing it alone in your house.
Where’s my perfect agent soulmate?