I have an ambitious plan. I’ll work in NYC at an editorial intern desk four days per week and then using my newfound knowledge about writing, I’ll apply it to my own writing and keep tweaking the manuscripts I have tucked away in a binder. I’ll conclude the summer with a final draft– work that I would be proud of.
Then, I receive feedback from my fiction professor. I had unveiled two stories in his class– the drafts had changed so many different times and I thought I had finally hit a nerve. Interesting and provocative with a dose of wit to match.
I rip open the manila envelope. He had been very supportive during conferences, so I am expecting a similar response in writing. Feedback is good– it’s something I can incorporate into a new draft.
But I can’t incorporate rejection into a story. “This story never really worked for me. But you get a good grade for a yeoman effort.” That was one story. Surely, he could direct me with the second one. “It’s an interesting story idea, but it never really came together for me.”
0 for 2. How could both stories be a bust? I know I should reevaluate the ideas, see if they can be tweaked. I know I shouldn’t take his feedback as the be all, end all. Yet everytime I pick up the excerpts, I immediately put them back down. Is it even worth it to try and put Humpty Dumpty back together again?
I stop writing. I don’t want to write. Ideas that come into my head for suspense novels or murder mysteries, I shuck aside. Too complicated. Too weird.
Spending time reading other people’s manuscripts does little to cheer me up. Here are some writers that have these amazing ideas– some paranormal, others romance, a smattering of whodunits– and my bosses are turning them away. We’ve seen this idea before, they tell me, or, the concept is really interesting (which always seems to be an euphemism for ‘unwanted’), but the execution is poor.
I consider what life would be like if I abandon writing permanently. I won’t have to sit at my desk, frustrated, stumbling over different words to come up with a phrase that doesn’t sound like a cliche. I can leave that to the professionals.
Yet, the notion isn’t uplifting. It just depresses me.
Still not writing fiction. During work, however, I’m scrawling down my thoughts about my job or the previous night’s shenanigans with my suitemates. The sting of the professorial feedback has passed.
Meanwhile, I’m getting a lesson in editorial politics.
“I like 50 Shades of Grey,” I say to my boss, “but it wasn’t well written.”
She smiles placatingly, “Books aren’t sold on being well written. If you bring a book to Barnes and Noble, they’re assuming the writing has merit.”
Oh. That would explain some of the books I have read, thinking, “How? How did someone think this was good?”
Still, it knocks me back a step. Knowing that only serves to keep me away from writing.
Last Friday, I sit on my bed in a funk. I had simply woken up sad and unmotivated. But sitting on that miserable excuse of a mattress, I want to write. I grab my pen and write three quarters of a page. A brief conversation between college girls about marriage. Nothing mindblowing.
But I wrote it. It was the first thing I had written in a while. And it got me thinking: how can I force myself to sit down, shut up, and write?
Social media and peer pressure come in very handy with situations like this 🙂
So, every Monday, from now until December, I will put out a fiction piece. It might not be long, but it will be there. And that’s the important part. And, who knows, if I’m feeling really up to it, I’ll even do themes. Get pumped.