Yeah, I’ve been slacking on this blog. It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I may have mentioned before, but this whole process of writing and trying to get published is a great learning experience, as is maintaining a blog and creating an Author page on Facebook (check it out – there isn’t much of anything there yet, but at least it exists: https://www.facebook.com/michaelknappbooks/ ). My general use of social media has primarily been restricted to photos of food, anecdotes about and photos of Charlotte, along with the occasional random thought. I found myself in one of those “what the hell are you doing!” panics over the past few weeks, so I skipped a few posts to try to figure some things out. Rejection and the waiting game can do that to you, no matter how prepared you think you are for it, and how well known a part of the business it might be. I was waiting on another agent (another rejection, but with some encouragement and less of the “form letter” feel), and sent my book to an editor several weeks ago (more details below), and waiting on feedback. I guess I kind of focused my energy elsewhere for a bit to take my mind off of things before I came back to it.
I had a nice lunch with my friends James and Steph almost a month ago (man, time doesn’t just fly, it really just disappears in large swaths these days), re-read the review that James was kind enough to provide, and saw that there were a lot of positives along with the suggestions. I don’t think that it is unique to myself to read feedback for the first time and only remember the suggestions on what could be better. As has been suggested several times by friends and writers alike, my book is currently off to an editor for a professional review and critique before I make final edits and move forward with deciding to continue pursuing an agent or to self-publish. I should have the review and notes by this Monday, then will make edits for a true final draft. Well, as final as a draft ever really is. I find that there is always the urge to tinker. I also listened to Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” again for the umpteenth time over the past two weeks, and a line stood out as I was driving along one afternoon:
“The truth is that most writers are needy. Especially between the first draft and the second, when the study door swings open and the light of the world shines in.” – Stephen King
Since my own final revision, and before I sent it to the editor, I experienced something that I am sure many writers experience; incredibly well-meaning friends and family asking “when can I read it?” It’s great to have people interested in your book, and it’s great to get feedback from multiple people with different perspectives. However, I suppose it is a learning process for new writers as to who should be the recipient of unpublished work, as well as to those asking for it. I do want to take a second to thank Livi, James, and my sister, Dawn, for reading through quickly and sending notes, questions, and corrections shortly thereafter.
PSA: If you ask for it? Please read it.
I don’t mean this as an admonishment to those that didn’t read it. It’s more just a gentle nudge for everyone that if you request an unpublished manuscript from a new writer (or an established one for that matter), please read it. As the quote says, most writers are needy. In the sense that when you say nothing, we assume the worst. Or if you are reading slowly, we assume that the whole thing needs to be ripped apart, burned to the ground, and re-built from scratch or canned. We write fiction; it’s literally our job to make up stories in our head. Which is exactly what we are doing every day that you have that book and have nothing to say about it. You don’t have to love it. You don’t even have to like it. But if you ask for a book before it’s published, please read it, and please provide your feedback in the most constructive way possible. If you are having a hard time getting into it? Please power through and include why you thought that was. If it’s not really your preferred genre, but you’re reading it anyway? Please include what worked for you, and what didn’t. If you don’t like it at all? At least provide some insight as to where we lost you.
As for my end of this, I have learned the lesson that, as with most things in life, if the request starts with any sort of quantifier; “I don’t really read, but…”, “I don’t read horror, but…”, “I don’t read fiction, but…”, then the quantifier is not going to change. Find the people asking with no quantifier, and give them the chance to be the beta readers. I’ll update next week when I get the review back from the editor, and see where I go from here.