Also known as the joys of telling people you are writing a novel.
I haven’t told many people that I am writing a book. Or that I am this close to being done with the first draft. I have, however, told my immediate family. Only my sister had read any of it (she is my write your book cheerleader). So after a rather drunken conversation Sunday night with my parents (I blame Hemingway for that lovely hangover), I sent them the first three chapters.
The subject of my email was: Rough rough rough draft. I asked for constructive feedback but warned that if they crushed my writing I would crush their heads.
Monday morning rolled around, and no response from either one of them. Hmm, that was a little strange. By the time their emails came in at 6pm, I had nearly given up on them answering and was envisioning them sitting side by side on the couch trying to draft a virtual pat on the head email saying “Isn’t that nice”. Something along the lines of the time our Rottweiler dropped a dead rat on my mom’s foot, grinned up at her totally proud of his mad rat catching skills and she patted his head and said “good boy” as she gagged at the mess dripping onto her toes.
What I got was two emails, sent one after the other. Oh yeah, they were totally sitting on the couch, side by side, laptops open reading the chapters I had sent. My mom, always the kinder one, told me that I had cut her off just as she was really getting into it. But that she really liked what she had read so far. Hmm, I can take that.
My dad, in true accountant mode, sent me a itemized list. Now, there was nothing wrong with what he sent me. A lot of what he said were things that I had already jotted down as items to revise. Inconsistencies with the type of company my main characters are interning at, check. I suspected that. His comment on still being unclear after three chapters what the “quest” the main characters were supposed to be on was a fair point. The intro needs to be revised to make it punchier. Other things, yeah, not so much. He didn’t like the name of one of the secondary characters. Ugh. Not changing it. There was something in there about not using Canada as it would not cater to the American market that I mostly ignored.
Today I got another email from him, subject line: 2 more ideas. Insert massive groan.
I opened it tentatively. Two more bullets. You can make an accountant retire but you can’t get him to retire the itemization. And I disagreed with both bullets. No, I take that back. I hated both of them.
Bullet one was about adding a dead body, robbery or earthquake to make the intro juicer. Er, no. Okay, the point he was making was that my intro is as strong as it could be. But where did he get dead body or earthquake from ANYWHERE in my chapters?
Bullet two: how about an intro to your world in italics with the year and the location. Last time I checked I wasn’t writing Tom Clancy-esque YA that needed a mission brief before each chapter. So once again – er, no.
I really appreciate the fact that they care about what I am writing and are in their own way trying to make it better so that I can succeed. And they were kinder that I had anticipated.
I guess it is pretty hard for someone who hasn’t gone through the writing process and spent months trying to decipher the whole publishing/agent/query letter beast that is the publishing industry to really wrap their heads around the process.
Now I MUST return to my WIP so I can finish it and start the painful revisions.