Yesterday an agent told me she liked my concept, but not my narrative voice. So I looked at the first few pages of my first chapter, and, guess what? I don’t like it either. But it’s only the first three pages that read that way. The rest is just dandy. Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway. Doesn’t everybody?), nobody reads any further if she doesn’t like the first three. Shoot me now.
Or at least my writing is. That’s what the very nice acceptance letter
(even I get one occasionally Don’t you hate false modesty?) said about my article that will appear in the next issue of Highlighter, the quarterly newsletter of the Mid Atlantic region of SCBWI. You’l have to look that up. I’m way too tired to spell it out. BTW, did you know the Mid Atlantic region is DC & Va? I didn’t.
I was thinking of doing this, but then I might run out of droppable names. So today’s name is Hector Jaime Mercado. We did three months of King and I together. I will always think of him as Prince Chulalongkorn, even though after that he was in a bunch of action films like Delta Force 2 and he played an anti-drug czar in Mexican Blow. I never saw these, because I thought he was a very nice boy, who shuffled around in bare feet and I wanted to keep the illusion.
Got another one yesterday. Editor said it wasn’t right for their publication, but please submit more. I translate that as ‘We like your style, your subject matter not so much.” That will do for now, although if the publication paid $1000 a story, I would be very sad, because under it all I am a crass commercial person. I know there should be some commas in there somewhere. I have decided arbitrary punctuation is the hallmark of an innovative writer.
And can’t remember where I left off in my current draft. This has happened many times, because I also forget to write down the page I was on the day before. Wow, are those first 16 pages going to be great!
Some of you may say ‘Writer’s Block,’ but other wiser souls would say ‘I’ll bet she didn’t have her computer.” and they would be right!.So you know (not that you care), it was intentional. No, really. It was a short NYC trip and I have become so obsessive about writing (Jeez, maybe I really am a writer), I had to make it physically impossible to create and edit (mostly edit). I kept telling myself that I would be refreshed and ready to see my work in a whole new light when I returned, which I would if I could keep my eyes open. Twas a very busy three days, much of which was spent chasing an extremely energetic 2 year-old.
So I know I said I’d only post on weekdays, but I had a very deep thought to share since my old Mac’s whimsical behavior has forced me to get a new one. Computers own us!
Raise your hand if you are old enough to be nostalgic about your old nonelectric Royal. Now put them down, you fools. I have two words for you: Correction Ribbon. Carbon Paper. OK, four words.
So you sing your best eight or sixteen bars and/or read your monologue and you don’t get called back. Why, lord, why? Odds are good you’ll never know, and please, please, don’t ask. It’s really annoying, they don’t owe you an explanation, and they probably won’t tell you the truth anyway (trust me on that one).
So here are the levels of rejection in auditions and queries.
1.They don’t even tell you they got your initial request to be seen/read.
2. Query: Form letter Thanks, but no thanks. Audition: “Thank you. Next.”
3. Query; Nice form letter for projects they think had some obvious merit “We’re sorry we took so long to respond. Your project has obvious merit.” Audition: They let you sing 32 bars before they say ‘Thank you. Next.”
4. Query: Personal letter. We really love your style, but right now we’re not looking for Paranormal YA. Audition: You have the voice and face of an angel, but you’re just too short.
OK, I admit I never told anyone she had the voice and face of an angel, but that’s just because it never happened.
Yesterday I queried an agent who wanted to know the last book I read and the writer who influenced me most. She asked me to include a sentence from my book that I loved and a whole lot of other stuff I won’t bore you with. Too late? This took me nearly two hours to write. But let us differentiate between ‘long’ and ‘hard.’ This one was easy, it was fun, and very interesting. Why? It made me focus, it gave me a sense of who the agent was, and what she really wanted. Also, I suspect she’s actually going to read my letter. Otherwise why bother asking for so much info? Please do not say “Everyone needs a good laugh in the morning.”
The hardest queries are the ones that just say ‘Send a query letter to’ firstname.lastname@example.org. Yes. I checked. There’s no such URL.
Everyone who can remember something they wrote yesterday raise your right hand. No, the other right hand.
Well, at least 50% as good. Here is the very nice rejection email I got from Flapperhouse
Thank you again for submitting “You Can Paint Anywhere.” We’re sorry to say that it’s not quite what we’re looking for right now, BUT: We like your style, especially your sense of humor, and if you wanted to submit more of your work to us down the road, we’d be very happy to read it.