Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bla bla bla bla and OMG so Fracking Adorable...

I should probably have some sort of organized post (okay, stop snorting, I AM organized, on occasion... sometimes...) but I don't. I've got a manuscript flapping in the wind with an agent that I would just chew my arm off to land. It's been what seems like a lifetime since I sent the ms out (have you ever noticed how time slows down after you hit the send button?) and I'm wearing a rut in the carpet that could swallow an elephant. I know that the agent is an 'editorial' agent... so I'm hoping, and praying, and lighting little paper lanterns that he's making busy little notes and I'll eventually get an email with positive things in it. But statistically, I'm thinking things are going to end with a few wild moments of Sicilian hair rending and a few thousand calories worth of chocolate.

And since sending the ms out, I've gotten feedback from a beta reader that was, well, not awesome. I mean, she said it could be a good story BUT... and there was rather a laundry list of things she suggested that I change or research more. Things I didn't entirely understand her problems with, things that I'd thought weren't an issue at all, things that took me at the blindside. It made me question myself more deeply than I ever have. After a rough few days, I ventured to ask my bro-in-law, one of my other beta readers what he thought of the book. He didn't agree with the first beta reader at all. He 'got' all the things she didn't. He didn't have issue with a lot of the things she did (she's an anthropology major and this is the book about Ansel the albino Athabaskan) and he loved the characters that she felt were never really developed. Knowing his opinion, even if I haven't read his full critique, helped a lot. Sort of.

How do you know how seriously to take your beta reader's opinions? I mean, if someone tells me that the pacing drags logistically, I can fix that. If they tell me that it drags because there's too much mooning between two characters who are falling in love and have never been in love before, and the other betas don't think there's too much mooning, how do I take that? Respectfully I could have done with about a tenth of the mooning in the Twilight saga... but obviously I'd be outside the other 95% of the population... including agents and editors. So what defines the line between 'something doesn't work because you've mucked it up logistically' and 'something doesn't work because I don't like it'?

Whew... sorry about that blather but it's been a burr under my saddle. I'm not someone who dithers and question themselves. I can take rejection and critiquing, but this has been hard because I've found myself convincing myself that I've screwed up my chance with a great agent by blundering all of these things I thought I'd gotten right. And even having one beta (my bro-in-law is a great reader despite our connection. He has no trouble with detachedly telling me something stinks and why.) tell me my story is not trash, doesn't eradicate the fact that another beta didn't like the story at all. Even knowing that the book isn't her 'her cup of tea' from the get-go doesn't mean that there isn't some truth to her opinion of the book. I don't know. *obsessively starts dithering again*

And now for the OMG so Fracking Adorable part...

I recently (don't ask the exact date, I'm waaay to scattered to figure that out) found Rebekah Joy Plett. Can I just say that I LOVE going over to her blog? Not only do her posts make me smile, but all of her art? SERIOUSLY? SO FRACKING ADORABLE! I want to get half of them as tattoos so I can wake up and see them first thing every morning. Don't wince, I do love tattoos, but I'm not going to disappear under ink any time soon. Not that there's anything wrong with people covered in the stuff :) Anyway, you should absolutely scoot on over and check out Rebekah's blog. And if you do, give her a big high five because she just signed on with the super cool zombielicious Bree Ogden of Martin Literary Management. I admit that I stole the term 'frack' from one of her congratulatory commenters... what can I say? It's an awesome word... And I like me some learning of new awesome words... :)

Next post? A breakdown of the 'ancient dog home alone affect on breaking glass alarm systems' equation...

13 comments:

  1. On feedback... I trust my gut on when to listen and when not to. No reader has the final word.

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  2. I agree with Robert. Trust your gut, especially if one beta liked it, and the other isn't a big fan of the genre in the first place. That plays a really important part. There are people I love and trust to give me critical feedback, but they don't read epic fantasy, and if it's not something they would pick up on their own at the bookstore, I won't ask them to critique it.

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  3. Regarding feedback, I completely understand what you mean. Robert and Kelly are right. Take what the betas say into consideration, but ultimately, go with your gut. :)

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  4. You are so sweet and THANK YOU!!! I have thank-you's oozing out of my pores (it's hard to see over the internet). KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! Because all work is good work (bad work is no work at all). Keep in touch!

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  5. PS - I posted your blog all over my Twitter and Facebook. It's good to share the good times and the hard times with everyone.

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  6. There will always be readers who don't "get" what you write, and there will always be readers who critique every potential flaw in a story, especially if it touches on their personal field of reference. I agree with the first commenter: if your gut says your BiL is right, go with that. There MS is out there now, and flying on its own! I wish you all the best!

    P.S. - Ansel the Albino Athabaskan sounds like an adorable story. The sourdough in me is excited to read it when it's [redacted for superstitious purposes]!
    P.P.S. - "Frack" is originally from the highly wonderful recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica. If you like sci-fi, I recommend it!
    P.P.P.S. - Rebekah sent me here via Twitter. She's a peach, and I'm glad to have found you through her!

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  7. The tie goes to the writer. If you have one who likes it and one who doesn't, go with your gut.

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  8. Rebekah: folks like you are the kind that keep us 'hopefuls' marching onward :) Thank you so much for posting about my blog! To think that I only got a computer in order to further my writing... Blogging and meeting other writers - the published and the as-of-yet-unpublished - has been utterly invaluable to me and my development.

    Tikabelle: I'm glad the sourdough in you is excited to read about Ansel. Although I live in the lower forty-eight, a chunk of my heart remains in Alaska. Sometimes I can smell black spruce early in the morning... And I'm glad you found me too!

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  9. Definitely hurts to get harsh feedback. I try to take some time to sit back and let the festering wound heal a bit. Then I can sit back and look at the criticism objectively: Are they right? Totally up in the night? Is half of it right? Are they right that something's wrong, but diagnosed it incorrectly? I think you're smart to get multiple beta readers. Often I'll have two who think on thing and one who thinks another. A tie-breaker is useful. :)

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  10. Oh, I know how you feel. I hit send a few weeks ago and am trying very hard not to think about it. I mean, it's good that I didn't hear back right a way in the negative because that means the agent is really taking her time to read what I wrote. Right? Or she hasn't even gotten to it. Or she's about to hit send. Or...In the immortal words of Ren and Stimpy: 'maybe something good, maybe something bad...' I guess I just have to wait.

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  11. Sorry one of your beta readers gave you a disenting opinion. That can really frack things up. (I assume you weren't a Battle Star Gallactica watcher, but I suspect Rebekah might be, this is a BSG word all the way.)

    Anyway, you can't take everything a beta reader says as valid. Everyone has their own way of looking at things. If I had been a beta reader for Stephanie Meyer I would have given her all sorts of crap about Twilight, and if she had listened to me she would not have gotten published. But then I'm a jaded old bag without a romanic bone in my body, who has blocked out all memories of HS.

    So, as for Rebekah's blog, thanks, it's adorable. I hate people who can draw, but it's just a mild envy fueled form of hate that doesn't stop me from drooling after them.

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  12. Thanks for all of the supportive comments guys! You all rock :)

    Melissa I'm glad you like Rebekah's blog! And I so know what you mean about the hate-for-being-so-enviously-lovely thing! I nearly went to art college and never drew/painted anything half so awesomelicious!

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