Monday, February 15, 2010

Out The Window

The past few weeks my 1000 word a day minimum just hasn't happened. Its been one thing after the other keeping me busy so that I've not even had the chance to sit down in front of the computer. And its left me feeling like I'm now running behind. Not that I have anyone to answer to except myself, but if I'd been able to keep those 10,000 or so words a week totals going, I could have almost completed my young adult novel by now. All I can do is get back on the bike, so to speak and try to make sure I get my words done each day this week.
Last week I got back the judge's reports for the RWA Emerald comp I entered. Its frustrating, because it annoys me how in one comp this ms could place 10th and then the very same pages in another comp could get a placing halfway down the pack. And do you know what I've belatedly realized? Just like its the luck of landing your manuscript on the right editor's/agent's desk on the right day, these things come down to the whims of the judges. So while two judges apparently liked my ms and scored me well and had lots of nice things to say about my work, one seemingly did not like it so much. She seemed to feel that my characters were a bit cliched and the storyline not believable and that it would need some re-writing in order to make it up to scratch, thus her score was almost half of what the other two scored me.
When I read this, at first I was a bit angry because I (as all us writers do) have been working by butt off and this judge's opinion was so far opposite of the other two, I felt like I'd been ripped off. Like, if my manuscript had gone to another judge who scored me as well as the first two, then I would have made the cut into the second round. Like, just because for whatever reason this person didn't like my work, I'd missed a big opportunity.
After that, I started feeling kind of desolate about it. What if she was right and the other two were wrong? What if my characters really were cliche and my storyline not believable? How would I ever get published if after all this time I still can't string together a half decent story? What am I doing with my life? Should I just go get a job as a checkout-chick or receptionist somewhere and forget about this whole writing gig?
Then I went back to anger for a little while, thinking just because she didn't like the story, didn't mean she had to score me so harshly and getting on my high horse about when I do judging for RWA, even if I don't like something, if it's put together well and holds my attention, I still score it accordingly.
Now the funny thing is, usually after this point I arrive at the emotion of "I'll show them!" which spurs me into a frenzy of writing and usually sees me submitting something, somewhere, just to make myself feel better.
Except this time I've come to some sort of philosophical feeling about the whole thing. Strange. Does this mean I've grown as a person? I don't know, but I lastly thought that I was really angry or depressed about it, about something I have no control over, that being someone else's opinion. I can only work to make it the best I can make it and of course there are going to be people along the way who don't like what I've done for whatever reason. But that's the nature of the profession I've chosen.
So no mad dash to scribble down thousands and thousands of words this week, no impulsive decision to send some work off to an agent/editor. Just the knowledge that I'll review my work with the judge's comments in mind and send it off to the next competition, hoping luck sees my pages sent to judges who all like what I've done. That this time, the opportunity will come my way.

1 comment:

Lynn Colt said...

Eek, that's rough. It sucks that the one judge didn't like your work, but you're right - novels are so subjective that you never know when it will hit someone the wrong way. Let the comments sit for a couple days, then go back and see what constructive guidance you can glean from them (sometimes the harshest comments I get about my work are also the most helpful, since nice comments don't make me get better!).

The nice thing about querying as opposed to comps is that if you can get that one yes, it doesn't matter what the 99 other agents thought about the manuscript. Keep at it and don't give up!