Thursday, May 11, 2006

Westward Bound

Time to head off to Colorado with my family to visit family. Our one-of-a-kind niece Hannah graduates from college on Saturday, and then we'll drive through the Rockies to Cripple Creek, where we'll play the slot machines in this once thriving, then ghostown of a gold mining town, and now again thriving community built around all these little casinos with their original wild west storefronts.

I like it out west--not as much as I like the ocean, but it brings out an Americana spirit in me.

Now that I'm better, I can say I've had a tough week. The book agent was pretty harsh with my book proposal. I'm not a wimp about criticism, but I do better with an occasional good word thrown into the mix. She had some clear and helpful suggestions, and it's not unusual to expect several re-writes before sending the proposal to publishers, but when I asked her what about the book she liked, all she could say is, "It's a publishable topic". Almost 70 pages of summaries and samples, and not one positive word or observation. After all the work, and some growing confidence in my ability to write something meaningful, I was surprised, then pissed, that she didn't speak to the "seedling" that I am.

I've thought about sending a query elsewhere--some folks are just not compatible and it's no-one's fault--but the delay in starting fresh is discouraging. Plus for some reason it seems important to stick this out, at least now. I took a few days, asked a few friends for advice, and today called ps the book agent. She knew I was upset and she spent some time telling me that her approach with me is "not personal....the book industry is all about rejection...the point is to get your book ready for an editor to like it... there will be time ahead when I give more compliments than criticism, but you still have alot of work to do first..."

This is a tricky tightrope: she knows what sells far better than I but I don't want to sell something that is not who I am or what I care about. So I need to keep my voice in all of this, even as I integrate her suggestions and comments.

I am going to revise the proposal and send it along again. The good news is that I am clearly motivated. I don't think I'll lose steam, which could so easily happen. I love writing. I want to be a writer. I want to walk into Barnes and Noble and say, "Hot damn--there's my book". (I hope this doesn't sound as pompous or self absorbed as it might...)

So I'm pushing forward and hoping for the best again. Here's hoping the hard knox will help me stretch and grow. And, if I find that I need to find another agent, or approach publishers myself, I trust that I will do just that. I'm going for it.


  1. Good for you, KJ! Criticism is always tough, but particularly so when you feel like it isn't tempered by something positive. You're holding up better than I would in all this; your resilience is inspiring. (And, for the record, you DO NOT sound self-absorbed for wanting to see your own book in B&N -- down the line I'd like the same thing!)

  2. thanks a, i consider you a knowledgeable source in all of this!

    how are you doing?