Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book has the flu

Amy emailed me a couple of days ago with her second critique. She did not say, "Andi, you followed all my suggestions! A little change here, a few edits there, and you're good to go. Let's talk agents."

Instead, she said this: Every scene needs to in some way cause a later scene, and every scene needs to be caused by an earlier scene. This is how fiction differs from real life...we need to feel pressure building, things becoming more complicated for the main character and for her primary goal..."

After a couple more pages, she wrote "I know I'm being very prescriptive here. Take these recommendations with a grain of salt."

I say, prescribe away, because I am feeling disheartened and lost. Well, slightly less so after meeting with her this afternoon. We went over her critique, point by point, and analyzed each scene, one by one, getting rid of a few, and adding new ones. She also had some great plot ideas that add both tension and fun to the novel. I feel as if, with Amy, I am getting an individual tutorial in how to structure a novel (Amy teaches creative writing at a university).

I have a lot to do, but I know I can do it. I asked Amy to tell me if she felt that the book was publishable, or was I wasting my time. Her response: "You have a great voice, and it can work if you make these fixes." I'll take that as a yes.

It's all doable, but I almost cried when Amy suggested it needed about year's worth of work. I reminded her how quickly I did my last revision, although of course we now know it wasn't that good. Plus, she may not be available to re-read it until the FALL. Aaargh. We discussed the option of my switching to a different reader if she can't get to it for a while. After our meeting, I tossed that idea around with a friend, and I became persuaded that it's best to stick with Amy, however long it takes. I am so goddamn impatient, I can't stand it. I started this five or six years ago, it's undergone numerous revisions, and I want it done so it can be an Alec Baldwin movie and he can be my boyfriend.


  1. I'm sure Amy is very good, but remember, hers is just one opinion. It's hard to tell without seeing your work, but don't you just have to trust your own feelings at some point?

    Also I've read that if you give your novel to lots of people and they all say the same thing is wrong with it, then you should look at that thing, but if they all say different things are wrong, then don't worry and send it out.

    The Clean White Page

  2. Amy sounds like a very capable resource. At least she's telling you the truth and not stringing you along for the money. I let people at work read my pages as I write them. They're not professionals like Amy, but I learn what a reader expects from a story as they give me feedback. Two of them told me almost the same thing Amy told you.

    It's instinctive to what a reader wants and expects from a story. This feedback was immensely helpful to me. Hang in there with Amy. She's leading you in the right direction. You can do it.

    Looking forward to further developments!

  3. Andrea,
    You are no doubt feeling like Louis and Clark did when, having finished with the Rockies,they ran smack into the Cascades. In the end, they made it, and I'm sure you will too. The promised land is over the next rise, where Alec Baldwin waits with aching heart for his leading lady.
    Stick with it Andi, don't let the clock hound you. Autumn will be here sooner than anyone our age wants it to be. Amy's prognosis for your novel seems very positive. You know what they say about changing horses in mid-stream ( hope she is not reading this ). Be well, Andrea.
    Write on!