Sunday, April 19, 2009

When it's a hard hit

I asked for some general feedback on a draft of a query blurb. I was trying a different tactic and mostly wanted, "Works/Doesn't work," with maybe a "Too long/Not enough detail/need better hook." What I got was a detailed five-point explanation of why and how the blurb was wrong.

Suffice it to say, I was a bit thrown. I mean, I was writing it pretty late last night (just before bed, in fact) and blurbs and synopses are not my favorite things in the world, so I wasn't expecting it to be ready for sending out, but it isn't fun to ask for a short response and see just how 'off' your work is. I immediately felt discouraged, despite how little a thing it was (little in terms of length, but it's also what agents base their decisions on). I was beginning to get excited at the prospect of my upcoming Summer of Queries, and this felt like a huge step back.

I know that as a writer, I get too close to the story and the writing itself, so whenever I get harsh feedback, I tend to react emotionally at first. Give me a few hours or a few days and I'm fine and can analyze the comments, disregarding what doesn't work for me, keeping the stuff that does. But it's a dejected bump I need to get over first.

This blog post helped me do just that. Toni McGee Causey of "Murderati: Mysteries, Murder and Marketing" writes about Susan Boyle (the phenomenal Britain's Got Talent singer) and the topic of when do you give up. When do you say, I'm not going to be a writer anymore.

I read that and thought, "Getting upset over this is stupid and useless. The feedback, though harsh, was given with good intentions and is helpful. I am not going to stop writing because of it, and I sure as hell won't give up on trying to get published. So why bother whining and moaning that someone was mean about it?" If the blurb doesn't work, it helps to know now before I send it off to agents. I typed it quickly and posted it on my personal blog, and one imagines I'd have made many more changes before mailing, but I might've missed one of the big problems, just because I get too close to the writing. I get too used to the way a sentence looks and can't always see what's wrong.

I imagine that problem will fade (hopefully) the more I write and edit, but in the meantime, I am not giving up, and I thank my friend for the feedback. I'm going to revise that blurb, then go work on a short story.

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