The worst thing, I think, for a writer is to put oneself out there and receive absolutely no response whatsoever. I mean, you hope people come back with comments like "Wow! That really changed my entire life!" but even if they come back with something more along the lines of "Wow. That really sucked shit through an i.v. needle", you at least have the satisfaction of knowing what they thought. You have closure.
So here's the thing, way back when, seven or so months ago, when I proclaimed my latest draft of Effigy to be finished, a new friend of mine, a fellow fantasy fan, offered to read it. I was especially excited about this because he would be the first person to read it who had never read a previous draft, or who had never had countess conversations with me about character or plot or whatever. He would have fresh eyes with which to examine the work. So I took him up on the offer. He told me intended to be brutally honest, in order to help me write the best book I possibly could. Everyone feels the need to tell me of their intention to be brutally honest. And they always use the word brutally too. And I always tell them to do their worst. I'm tough. I really am. I can take it. I really can. I'm not entirely convinced people believe me though.
Sure, I'd rather people not find problems. I'd rather people just fall into a swoon over my brilliance (actually, I don't think I'd prefer that at all. That would be weird so please, refrain from swooning over my brilliance in my presence. Feel free to swoon over my brilliance after my absence though.) but I'm smart enough to know that there will be problems. Some times what is in my head does not make it onto the page properly and I need people to tell me that. I can read and re-read a document a lot (and do) and still miss stuff because I know what it's supposed to say. Some times it's little stuff and some times bigger stuff. Heather has, to date, found the biggest plot hole although Mike once found a good sized one once too. And they told me about them and both them and I lived to tell the tale. So, yeah, go ahead then. Be brutally honest. Do your worst.
But here's the thing. If you agree to read something for a friend, or a friend of a friend, or just someone you went to the movies with once, actually go ahead and do the reading. As in in a timely manner. Don't get the book in say...July and then maybe read a chapter every month. Or every two months because you know what happens then? The author goes insane.
Seven months and my friend has not yet reached the half way mark. There are twenty seven chapters in the book and he's read eleven of them. And his comments have been very interesting and helpful (even though he did suggest an adverb once and then later suggested a change to a line of dialogue in a scene I consider to be sacred...) and I'd love to know what he thinks about the rest of the damn thing only he'd actually have to read the damn thing in order for me to do that.
So for me, this is sending a pretty clear signal that he's just not that into the book. Which is all right with me. I mean, I am also smart enough to know that Effigy will not appeal to every single person on the face of the earth. Because it won't. If Harry Potter didn't appeal to every single person on the face of the earth, nothing will. But just tell me. Again, I am tough. I can take it.
I said once, after noticing the ever increasing delay in between reviewed chapters, to this person that if he did not have the time and/or desire to read said manuscript, he did not have to. He responded by saying he would feel obligated at this point. This is not good. I do not want people to feel obligated to read my book. I want people to actually want to read my book. Because they want to. Not because they feel they have to.
But should one find themselves reading my book because they wanted to and then should discover an intense hated of the book, or just a paralyzing lack of interest in the book, one should be considerate enough to tell me. One should be considerate enough to give me closure. Because I need it.
As many of you know, I'm trying, with very little luck, to write a synopsis, the most important part, perhaps, of a submission packet. It's not going well, as many of you were able to guess by my use of the phrase "with very little luck." I feel like I'm stuck. I'm stuck in a rut and I can't get myself out because I'm waiting and waiting and waiting for a critique that will never come. Or, will come very, very slowly over the next year and a half. Because I want to sit around and do nothing but fret for the next year. And a half. That, in case you were unclear, was sarcasm.
I gave this person the manuscript in July. July of last year. No one has ever taken seven months to read it. Well, Heidi and Mike, maybe, but that's only because they were waiting for me to write the last two chapters. The subject of this blog does not have that excuse. He received the entire manuscript in July. The excuse he uses now is his newborn son. And I get that newborns are time consuming and life changing and whatnot and really didn't expect him to continue reading after the birth of his son. In January. Or I didn't, anyway, until I read a comment he left on my blog (not this one...) about his intention to start reading Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series (the series my fave new syndicated television series Legend of the Seeker is based on). He planned to start reading it in the next week or so which sort of kind of maybe pushed me over the edge a little because he still sort of kind of maybe is supposed to be reading MY BOOK.
But I said nothing. I never say anything apart from thank you. I never complain to the people who are reading stuff for me because I appreciate the fact that they are reading stuff for me. I understand that it is their own time they're using in order to help me and I do not expect to come before work, or family, or other obligations like that. But I do kind of expect to come before the reading of other fantasy series, especially when the author of said fantasy series is not awaiting on the reader's feedback.
When people ask me to read things for them, I do it right away because I know they're waiting on it. And yes, I realize that what I am asked to read is vastly shorter than what people read for me, but still, I think the same principle applies.
I think it's kind of rude.
But again, I don't say anything. Instead I complain to others about it. Which may, in itself, be rude because I am not confronting the problem (if there is one...I can't be sure.) head on, but I have a strict non harassment policy. No matter how much I want to shake someone until feedback pops out of them, I don't. I can write it here because I'm fairly sure he doesn't read this blog. I hope he doesn't. I wouldn't want him to know that I think he's being rude. That would be rude. And I wouldn't want to be rude. Just passive aggressive, apparently.
So the question remains: how do I get over it? How do I get myself back on track? How do I say "Well, you win some, you lose some" and go on to write a kick ass synopsis that will lead to a book deal (Interesting side note: I read somewhere recently that the average book only sells five hundred copies. Which doesn't seem like very many. Heather said once that she would buy five copies, so that's only 495 more to go!)? I haven't had much luck with it yet. I hope to regain my groove soon. I hate being this badly off balance. Terry Goodkind, I blame you. Just so you know.