Last night, I was exhausted. It had been a long, hot, stressy day that ended with a work party that I had to leave early from, making me a crappy team member to my coworkers. Then, I was worried about getting my son from my sister’s house so her routine wouldn’t be disturbed any more, so I wouldn’t be the worst, most inconsiderate sister, EVER. THEN, the never-ending ‘buy me, get me” litany my 13 year old sings every day had begun in earnest because I’d missed 100 or so stanzas of it being at the work event. Needless to say, when I sat down at my computer, I was hair trigger and set for burying my face in the nearest bag of whatever was the worst possible, saltiest, fattiest thing in the house. Oh, and PMS was a factor, too. (Just for complete disclosure. You’re welcome.) It was then that I saw the agent’s reply to my boot camp submission, innocently sitting in my email.
Now, before I continue, I encourage any other writers out there to do these. They’re great. You get a lot of information and then eyes on your work that you might not have otherwise. Very worth it. Remember this, because it will come into play again shortly. Maybe even a quiz.
I clicked on that thing like it was going to save my life. I was pretty sure that I was about to be discovered and it was all going to be sunshine and lemon drops from now on. This, of course, flew completely in the face of why I’d signed up for the boot camp in the first place. (Please review the italicized paragraph) The agent, whose name I’ve withheld out of sensitivity to her feelings (I didn’t ask permission to use her name and I don’t want to be rude.) had written this:
Thank you for participating in Bootcamp! Attached is your assessment as well as a self-edit guide for the future. You’re on the right path, just be confident. Best of luck!
Lovely West Coast Literary Agent (Yes, this is totally her name.)”
So, no thrill of being discovered on immediate reading, and of course I missed the very important “You’re on the right track, just be confident. Best of luck!” part. All I could see was that she didn’t want to read more of my story. Droopy and sad, I clicked on the assessment file. First, the notes on my query letter, which, as I said in my previous post about query letters was melodramatic and a bit much. She streamlined that for me, and showed me what not to do, which was AWESOME, and in my debilitated state, could recognize properly. Then, I scrolled down to the notes on my story. The first note, of nine Lovely West Coast Literary Agent made on my story, was positive, encouraging and any normal person would have been thrilled. (And I am, now, after sleep, caffeine and perspective.) Here it is: “This story has a lot of potential to appeal to both women’s lit and horror lovers.”
The rest of the comments, some notes on format (mine wasn’t in the usual font), No paragraph breaks in the first pages (Dialogue and internal monologue heavy), notations on using stock gestures, fleshing things out to not give the first main character away immediately and not crowding a bunch of characters into the first pages, a comment on how the story starts (I can definitely get that.) and a warning on adverbs (sorry, Stephen King..I need to read “On Writing” again, I think.), were really not bad, and certainly not discouraging. Especially for a very, very rough edit of my first draft – not even a real rewrite of the manuscript.
So, what did I do? What anyone who was tired, overheated, overwhelmed, craving salt and sugar and frustrated would do.
I cried. Like a big baby.
This morning, I woke up (literally, not in the light bulb sense) with the words “You’re on the right track. Be confident.” in my head. It’s actually good to hear at any time, but when hoping to be published someday, it’s actually the exact right thing to hear at this point. I didn’t sign up for the boot camp to be discovered like some 1940’s starlet. I signed up to get my query letter situation straight now, in preparation for when submission time really comes. My manuscript is rough. It’s still a first draft. It’s not complete, even. I’m still writing the back half. At that wild stage of not doneness, to get this comment: “This story has a lot of potential to appeal to both women’s lit and horror lovers.” was huge. Three positive words jump right out of that sentence, don’t they? Potential, Appeal, Lovers. In short, I actually am moving forward with something that has a shot at being successful. Not a pie in the sky, euphemistic shot. A real one.
P.S. Just because it’s been mentioned: anyone with a desire to read fan-fiction about a show that is not on the air anymore, BUT still seems to have an active fandom, here is the link to my fan-fic archive: http://kdsch123.livejournal.com/ I still get comments on these from time to time, which is a surprise. Hope you like Superman. 😉