Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rejection Therapy Session

I am seeking some therapy. I just received the official news that I didn't make it into the final round of a contest to which I submitted the first 25 pages of my current project. Here's the low down.

Judge One (let's call her Snarkaviscious) is a published romance author. She gave me 116,000 'you rock' points out of a possible 150,000 (point values have been exaggerated slightly) mostly taking points off for the formality of my voice. Her feedback went like this: "Although I was FORCED to judge you on mechanics such as mechanics/grammar etc., I do not think this is publishable as it is because your voice is so formal and stilted. My 13 year old daughter (let's call her Louis Denominator) wouldn't want to read this."

Judge 2 (let's call her Intelligencia the Editor) is a professional trained in writing. She gave me 142,000 YOU ROCK points out of 150,000. She made the following remarks. "You have a nice writing style and a great voice. Be careful of your pacing and comma splices (Yes, I missed some in the new material like 10. Shhh, Kirk.) You have an interesting plot and conflict"...yadda yadda

So here is my question: WHY is it that no matter who looks at this story I can't get a consensus of opinion? It seems that people either love it or hate it and for the exact same reasons. It's not like Snarkaviscious hated Kaya or thought she was uninteresting. She said my voice wasn't clever or edgy enough to be published. While Intelligencia touted the very things that the Snark hated saying that my voice was clear and readable.

Can I please get a great big GRRRRRRR! and maybe a hug? Cause I think I'm about to cry big ol' baby tears of frustration.

I am not new to rejection this is the umpteenth time this year I've dealt with it. Somebody please tell me why we as writer's keep subjecting our creative genius to this type of scrutiny and subjectivity. Is it insanity? Is there a pill to cure it?


  1. It's all in how the editors look at it, which kind of sucks because once you're outside of mechanical analysis, it's all subjective. They want to twist your story to their own writing or reading style, and they're too big in the head to think "Hey, maybe I'm wrong about this and should branch out."

    I recently had the same editor reject Sidewinder multiple times, with the suggestion that it should be changed to 3rd person. Might as well blow my nose with the manuscript if I'm going to do that. :-P

  2. We subject ourselves to such scrutiny because we don't want to end up like the poor foolish poet ghost, Nehemiah Trot. (A funny character from The Graveyard Book)

    He published his first book of poems and some nasty person gave him a rather poor critique. So Nehemiah decided to serve his revenge up cold. He vowed never again to share his poetry with the living. He was to be buried with it and then, when the world realized their great loss, they could dig him up and take the pages of "genius" from his cold dead hands.

    We want out work to come to life in the form of a published book. That is why we subject our babies to scrutiny. Sad we are, but not near as sad as Nehemiah.

  3. Donna, the solution to everything always has been and always will be CHOCOLATE. Let's go get some :)

  4. Sorry, Donna. That is frustrating when the comments contradict each other. At least if you get the same feedback from several people you know what areas to go back and target.

    Maybe it's a good sign that there isn't a consensus because then it comes down to personal opinion and you just have to find the person who loves it and wants to publish it.

    I second Deb's prescription for chocolate and would throw in some ice cream.

  5. I've had this experience a time or two and I've always found that the feedback (especially when contradictory) needs time to settle. It's like a sand storm of information about my story and I can't fully see what they mean until the dust settles. I gave myself a good couple of months, read what they said, and came back to my story with fresher eyes. I could appreciation (and even understand) what the judges meant. I also had the clarity by that point to choose what I felt was applicable and toss the rest.
    The worst part about it? It took time. Hopefully, you won't need the kind of time I did. Hopefully, you'll be back in the saddle and have your ducks in a row in no time.
    For now, hang in there.

  6. I think you've gotten great advice so far so I'll keep it short. You're a great writer. You just need to find the write people to represent and publish you. Simple as that.

  7. Every reader (whether a professional reader or not) is different. Different tastes. Different peeves. Different buttons to push. There will always be some overlap in reviews almost as consistently as there will always be varying viewpoints. I see it every single day at work. Luckily there's that overlap that helps us find the common ground and work forward from there.

    (Big hug and "hang in there")

  8. So, is there a magic ball that editors and agents look at to decide if a manuscript is worth taking the risk on?

  9. Thank you all for your support and thank heavens for Halloween because the chocolate prescription can be filled with the Reeses hidden in my drawer. I took a double dose so now I'm feeling invincible.

    I had to laugh when not only were my 2 judges in complete disagreement about my voice in general, but they both underlined the same line in my story. Snarkaviscious said "So formal" and Intelligencia said, "Cute description, nice touch." all about the same 7 words out of 25 pages of text.

    So I'm going with Intelligencia on that one. I noticed today that all the sentences with slightly more intelligent vocabulary in them got slashed by the Snark and praised by Intelli so I think I will stick with the great detailed advice of Intelli who really had fantastic feedback and fixed all my comma splices and pacing with tiny scalpel cuts in the text.