I feel as though I’ve finally been inducted into the ranks of actual writers now that I’ve received my first rejection. He was rather sweet about it, kindly offering up sandwich style criticism and a sincere-sounding hope that another agent would find it more to their taste. Not that it didn’t sting, but it was a kinder and gentler let down than I suspect is the norm.
The whole auction process felt strangely like being back in a freshman level writing workshop. There’s the part where you, the immature writer, gamely attempt to coalesce the whirling ideas in your head into story. There’s the part where the rest of the class reads it, and doesn’t get it, and then proceeds to give you feedback in the form of variations on what the girl who went first said. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the part you’ve been holding your breath for all class, the part where the instructor tells you what he thinks, because let’s face it, he’s the only person whose opinion you really care about anyway, and he says it’s not a bad attempt at characterization and moves on to the next story.
I’m still not sure what to do with the feedback I got. Most of it revolved around a suggestion an early commentator made about not liking the scene as a flashback. Which would be fair enough if it was a flashback, but it’s not. It’s more like a prologue. This is the story the character tells herself about who – and why – she is. It’s what she’d tell you if it were late at night, and she’d had more to drink than she should, and you asked her why she looked so sad all of a sudden. It’s structured the way it is because I want the reader to carry this memory with them throughout the book. It should be something that they don’t forget – something they cant’ forget – because she doesn’t.
Whether or not that works as a structure point, or a plot point, or a literary device, or a whatever you want to call it is still up in the air. But it frustrates me that the bulk of the feedback I got was on a point which, in my mind, is moot.
As for the rest of it… The skew of both the entries that got bids and those that didn’t as well as the comments I got made me realize something I hadn’t really thought of before. The agent matters. It’s not merely a process in looking through profiles and choosing someone who’s represented authors I like or someone I’d want to have a cup of tea with. It’s finding the person who’s looking for the type of fiction I’m writing. Because that’s the person who’s going to ask to read more.
For the curious, the link to the auction page is here. And if you’ve read this far and are interested in more, I’m still looking for beta readers.