Tuesday, June 24, 2008

it's been a long week-much to report

Wow, it doesn't feel like the last time I wrote was ten days ago. Does life ever seem frighteningly fast, like when you skid across a waxed floor on your socks?

First, the talk with Claire went great. I found a couple of good books to start her on, wrapped them up and presented them as gifts. I wanted to hype the whole "this is a celebration of your impending womanhood" thing. I told her about all the changes she's about to go through, told her some awkward underwear facts, and she told me secrets that I'm not supposed to tell anybody. I was honored. Then we went out for sushi and saw "Kung Fu Panda." It was true quality mother-daughter time. Oh, and in case there are parents with girls reading this the American Girl's series has good books. I got The Feelings Book, which explains the whackiness that a girl's hormones are about to insue, and The Care and Keeping of You, which talks about all the physical stuff.

Second, I got a good response from the literary agency that read the first 50 pages of my book. And I was pleased that they got back to me pretty quickly. But, like the first time they requested part of the book, I got the impression I'd been rejected when I first read it. Actually, I thought that they didn't even do me the honor of sending me a standard rejection. I thought they just sent back my 50 pages and the copy of the request letter that I'd included in the package. This new letter reads thusly:

Dear writer,

Thank you for your interest. Please do send your manuscript, a copy of this letter, and a SASE to:

(address listed)

Please forgive the form letter, but the volume of inquiries we receive obliges us to respond in this manner.


The Joy Harris Literary Agency

For those of you who read my earlier post, take a good look at this letter. Notice that only a couple of words have changed. It's the exact same letter, only instead of "Please do send your first 50 pages," it's "Please do send your manuscript." Now....again....I'm not complaining. I would rather a standard acceptance letter than a standard rejection any day. But AGAIN I had to read it a few times before I noticed the slight difference. Luckily, my sisters, brother-in-law and three friends were over for a gathering last night and I was able to pass the letter around to them and Chris so they could tell me they were reading what I was reading. That it wasn't a trick of my eager-to-get-book-published eye.

The downer is that I've had a grand realization about the book over the last week. I say downer only because it's going to involve a lot of rewriting so I can't send the whole book off right away. I figured out what doesn't work in the second half. See, my book is about two high school girls (based on me and my bud Jennifer when we were teens) who are very unpopular and begin writing fake obituaries about kids who make fun of them (which me and Jennifer did). They have a fake hit list, which is really just a list of people they intend to write stories about, and the book is about what happens to them when their hit list is found by a student whose name is on it. This is the story of what would have happened to me and Jenn in a post-Columbine world. We didn't actually intend to hurt anybody and neither do my characters. They're defending themselves in a non-confrontational way.

The problem is that I give them friends in the middle of the book and they become happier right before the hit list is found. But the list is found towards the end and they get better socially in the middle, so the story loses its tension for a significant chunk of the book. I need to keep the girls hated and unpopular for the story to make sense. Jenn and I didn't really lose our social awkwardness until college. Ok, we've still got some, but not nearly as bad. I can talk to boys now. But 10th graders, especially these tenth graders, don't mature that fast.

Wish me luck. I have many edits to make, I have an article to finish for work today, laundry must be done, children must be tended to, and I have a date with Chris tonight. The date is marvelous, but it means I will get no writing done so I have to do it this morning. Like, now. So I should stop blogging. Noooooooo! The procrastination has already begun!


biggearhead said...

I am wishing you luck, a week late, but luck all the same. Hope it has come together for you during the past week. I didn't get any writing done last week. Instead, I rebuilt a transmission with my brother. It's a bit like writing, in that it's a pretty big pain in the ass, can seem extremely complicated, and involves lots of oil and swearing (your writing habits may vary on that last one), but in the end it feels very satisfying.

Genevieve said...

Thanks, man. It has indeed been a long week, but I haven't gotten any writing done either. I went to visit a friend in Tennessee, and I'm just getting back into the routine of things.

I have not, in fact, rebuilt a transmission, BUT perhaps as a writing exercise I can take apart and rebuild my transmission and you can compose a short story and we'll compare notes...Wait, that doesn't make any sense. I'm a little delirious from the ten hour drive with the family. That indeed involved Yosemite Sam type swearing. Lots of grumbling, no oil, but spilled juice.