Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Perspective?

I'm not sure I have any yet.

I can tell my frustrating conference experiences without crying now. But that doesn't mean I enjoy it.

When someone asks how my weekend was. I don't immediately get teary.

Does the fact that the publisher I have wanted to pitch to for TWO YEARS asked for my MS make it any better? Well it is salve, but not entirely helpful.

Because when someone sits down, reads three pages and tells you you suck (she tempered her words, but that is what she meant, and you can't tell me otherwise) what do you do with that?

If it were an editor or agent that I was pitching to, sure, that's acceptable. They know what they are looking for, after all.

No, this was a paid critique. I paid her to read and critique 25 pages. She read three and "gave up." She said that until I knew my character, it did me no good to have the commas in the right place. While I sort-of agree, I feel gyped. My confidence was shattered. I couldn't sit across from another editor or agent for the remainder of the conference because I felt like I had nothing to pitch. I cried for hours. Including the 15 minutes at the table with an agent.

I'm sure I made a great impression.

So here's the thing. My first three pages have gotten me in a heck of a lot of doors. Most people read my first three pages and say that I have a great voice. Most editors, who want to reject my subject matter, read the first three pages and tell me to send it in anyway. I have heard for well over a year that my first three pages are great. But this year, I've heard that my first three need to go. That in chapter 2 "baby you zoom!"

So I was ready to hear that the first three needed an overhaul. Incidentally, my first three have been overhauled so much that I think that I've polished the sparkle right out. I know they are trouble. I got that. But to not even try chapter 2?

Sigh.

So no. I still have no perspective. I can't bear to even open the document and try, try again.

Maybe tomorrow.

Currently reading someone else:

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

sounds like a lazy critique to me.

Mandy Houk said...

I think that's utterly ridiculous and you should lodge a complaint with whomever hired or recommeded this person. You paid for 25 pages; she owed you 25 pages, regardless of how she felt about the first 3. How does she know that she wouldn't have had a different impression of your knowledge of your character on page 10? Or, heck, page 4 for that matter!

Nasty. Just nasty. Was her last name Cowell?!

And anyway, I've read your first three pages (and a lot more!) and I think she's a dolt.

Julie Carobini said...

I agree; you were gyped. Tell me you asked for your money back...

Just send it out to the one who requested it, pronto. Otherwise you'll end up gutting the thing.

From one who knows.

Steve said...

J-diddy,

Here's what I think: you rock. Okay, I'll move from the emotional response and go to my cold, hard, rational one:

Many others have given you good feedback. You know there is room for improvement, but you also know there is a lot of great stuff there that has been blossoming: your character, the plot, the conflict, the trajectory of growth and change. This person shared her one opinion, and perhaps did it lazily or in a cursory fashion as she has so many other manuscripts to read. So she's not your audience. Drop her and move on, I say. But take the kernal of helpful insight and leave her baggage behind.

The insight: your character may need to be fine tuned. The character's focus, intent, whatever it is this critic didn't like could stand some improving. Let's thank her for pointing that out.

But let's also not lose sight of the fantastic, witty, strong character she is. She deserves to live. Your readers deserve to see where she'll go. Don't kill her off yet because of the gruff opinions of one person who may have just needed a stronger cup of coffee that morning. There is always room for growth--use this opportunity to do just that.

PattyK said...

Jamie,

You should complain to the people running the conference. REALLY. They need to know that one of their paid critique-givers messed up. Ask for your money back. REALLY. And please ignore anything this ignoramus said. I've read your manuscript and I think it's awesome / timely / significant. Why are you believing this bilge instead of your crit partners? What are we, chopped liver? :~) I'm so sorry you had this bad critiquing experience--but in this case, it's not YOUR problem. It's hers. You may have a few wrinkles to iron out, but dang, what you have is GOOD. It will help a lot of people if you can get the RIGHT person to read it.