Monday, April 26

Desperation or Reality - Neither One Sounds Good

Thanks to dictionary.com, I can share with you two of the nine definitions for the word desperate: leaving little or no hope, and making a final, ultimate effort. The problem with having nine different definions for a single word is that the connotation begins to change. Did you notice that definition #1 is quite dismal, while definition #2 has a hint of a heroic ring to it? (Or is that my desperate attempt to make desperation seem less pathetic?)

I'm mulling the word because last week I engaged in a ploy fueled by desperation: I cut 6,938 words from the manuscript I've been shopping around for the last nine months. After amassing dozens of rejections from agents, they all say it is entertaining and beautifully written, but not right for the current market. Which left me no choice but to submit to publishers directly. Sadly, very few publishers accept slush pile submissions any more, so my options are far from numerous. Dorchester does, but their word count limit cuts off at 90,000. So I dug deep and rolled into four days of deleting (others might call it editing, but there was no refinement, no tweaking - just deleting). Was I emotionally invested in those almost 7,000 words - sure. In my eyes the whole thing is richer with them included. However, my story still ultimately works, and I can live with the finished product. But in my mind, the process reeked of desperation from the start.

On the other hand, the realistic approach is that writing is a business. In business, you leave no stone unturned in your quest for success. Shipping my manuscript off to Dorchester represents the last, mossy pebble I'm able to dig out of the mud. It means I'll have no regrets, because I've tried literally everything to get my work published. But either way, I still feel slightly dirty. Not sleep-with-the-director-on-the-casting-couch dirty, but perhaps with a slight film, like all the soap commercials harp about. Has anyone else experienced this?

4 comments:

  1. No. I've never experienced this because after a handful of rejections I've always given up. Usually it's more because I'm onto the next thing or at least that's what I told myself. But, now I think it's because I didn't want to do the rewrites and the "work" of writing that it takes to get published.

    You have done the "work" and one of these days your book will come in.

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  2. Hey Christi, submitting a manuscript (to an agent or directly to a publisher) have never left me feeling desperate or dirty. On the contrary, it's made me feel an accomplishment. Because I'm working. I'm writing, I'm editing, I'm drafting and re-drafting...I'm submitting, and submitting and submitting. It's just part of the process, whether you submit on your own or through an agent. Don't let it get you down.

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  3. FWIW--I love re-everything in writing. Re-writes, revisions, re-visiting the scene you like but doesn't quite fit. The re-sult is almost always a shinier, cleaner product (oh, Lord, I sound like a used car salesman!)

    Good on you for doing the cutting. Even if it hurt, I'll bet it was worthwhile.

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  4. Christi,
    I feel a lot like you. To me, cutting and hacking my book to make it fit elsewhere than where I hoped to sell it feels lousy.
    Hang in there, you're a super writer!

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