Friday, 3 June 2011

Friday Wonder Ponder #8

At long last we've reached the end of yet another awesome week.

Let's talk about writing and sanity for a moment. For the most part, writers are considered intelligent people brimming with knowledge of art and culture, right? They are the backbone of film and literature and the creators of characters, words and worlds we adore. They might not be the most well dressed people (I mean, have you seen what they wear?), but they definitely have all their lights on upstairs.  

Sadly, the truth isn't always as it appears. . .

My dog has written a book on how to be a success. He already has 38 Twitter followers, which is proof that this concept is going to work. I haven’t seen anything else like it in the bookstores. It will be a huge hit.

From SlushPile Hell

SlushPile Hell's response is an absolute MUST READ, if you haven't already done so.

Writers like this worry me, and I'm not saying that to be snarky or sarcastic; I truly worry that these people might be on the verge of something, well, mental.

What could. . .no - rather, WHY would you think that a dog having 38 followers on Twitter is a plausible platform for a book deal? And a successful one, at that!

It defies belief.

Are they so drunk with optimism that they are blind to reality? Or perhaps the years are catching up to them, their dreams are unfulfilled and they figure they might as well try any and ALL means to attain it?

I. Simply. Do. Not. Understand.

Regardless if they're missing some screws, or too "high" in their own world to decipher fact from fiction, one question still remains:

Should you tell them their writing/ idea/work is not good?

It is a painful thing to have someone say your baby is ugly. The words seem to fly out of the person's mouth as letters and morph into silver daggers that pierce your very skin. No one wants to be told they suck; however, if, in fact, they do, shouldn't we do the right thing and say something? Nicely, of course, but, as we all know, there is a little something called denial. And it often undermines good intentions.

Personally, I think telling someone their idea/writing fails is a good thing.

When I was a wee lad I had completed my first novel by age thirteen. I spent two years revising it off and on and joined a well known writing community. There, I asked for crit partners and got a lot of takers. My first crit partner was a chemist who read and replied in a matter of days. She had nothing but praise. A few weeks later I got back crit number two, and he had good things to say, as well. And so it continued, one after the next, until 'lil ol' me decided it was time to query agents. I sent fifteen queries, crossed my fingers and waited. And waited...and waited...then (VIOLA!), the responses started pouring in. . .as rejections.

That's odd. Did they not see that my novel was brilliant?

A hop and a skip later, I sent another call for crit buds and got a few. Again they all said nice things -- ". . .excellent story. . ." ". . .very good writing. . ." ". . .love this character. . ." -- and once more, I floated up on cloud nine. I sent ten queries and got rejected in an instant.

"Fuck these agents!" I thought.

I willed myself to discard their stupidity as their own loss; after all, my work was BRILLIANT!

And then I met Mary. . .

Mary replied to my call for crits one month after I did so. She said she needed to read something and offered to do a swap. I obliged.

Little did I know this was someone I would come to hate.

Mary's WIP was a MG Urban Fantasy that was very much like the Incredibles. Her writing was excellent but the story was a tad drab. Curious, I clicked on her profile on the forum and discovered she had read for agencies (to those who don't know, these are the ones who read the queries and set the good ones aside for the agents). This perked me up at once, because she actually knew HOW to crit.

The sad thing was, "readers" have very low patience for nonsense.

Mary sent my manuscript back three hours after I initially sent it. She told me, point blank, she couldn't read anymore because the writing was HORRIBLE. She also stated that I had a long way to go and good luck with everything.  


At the moment, all I could think of was how stupid and jealous she was, but as I read her line edits of the three chapters (out of 30) she had critiqued, I began to realize that I did, indeed, SUCK!

Mary changed my life. And I thank her so much. If it was not for her, I probably would've still been in denial - still floating on gaseous lies. . .

Still holding onto a poor manuscript.

Mary is now a highly accomplished agent. I doubt she still remembers me, but her honesty forced me to learn about what I love and get better.

It doesn't matter how you do it. Slushpile Hell does it with sarcastic quips; some do it with sugar (which, I think, needs a bit of salt, too); some don't do it at all; and then there are those who tell it like it is.

At the end of the day, you need to be honest with people about their babies. Whether it be their cheating husbands, poor performance at work/school, addictions, douchbaggery or writing - you need to tell it like it is.

It could change that person's life.


Andrew Leon said...

Yep, absolutely correct. It's too bad it's so hard to find people who will give you objective feedback rather than just pat you on the back.

T.D. McFrost said...

Amen to that!

I had over 10 crits on my novel and only Mary's truly hit the nail.

There is a difference between being nice, being mean and being honest.

Michael Offutt said...

Hehe what an amusing story.

Anonymous said...

I've gained the most from people who are honest and kindly brutal.

Have a great weekend.

T.D. McFrost said...

Michael - It's so true. And I value her honesty.

Medeia - Me too! You have an awesome weekend and SUPER DUPER WELL WISHES for your book release. :D

Anonymous said...

Oh my and my ugly babies thank you.

It been WAY too long since visiting your blog and man, sorry about not doing the stylish blogger meme thingy...

I am saving this post so I can read it again, cause you are so right...and funny. Cheers!

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