I awoke this morning to an email from a Wild Rose editor who rejected Silver Linings. It didn’t depress me. In fact, I found it really interesting and it raised some intriguing questions for me.
The first thing that I found interesting is that she said the “first 11 pages gave nothing but back story and internal dialog.” She felt that the lack of “real” action made it drag. So, here’s my problem… my character is interacting with someone via email. How is that internal dialog? I mean, I get that it’s internal dialog in the sense that it’s Maris’ thoughts about those emails that the reader is privy to. However, don’t Alex’s thoughts and words and emotions that are relayed in the emails count for anything? And the idea of “real” versus “online” begs a whole other question to me, which I’ll get into in a moment.
The second thing I found interesting was this:
sough (sou, sŭf)
intr.v. soughed, sough·ing, soughs
To make a soft murmuring or rustling sound.
n. A soft murmuring or rustling sound, as of the wind or a gentle surf.
Wanna guess why I included a dictionary entry here? The editor didn’t recognize that word in my manuscript. She had a question mark on it. Now, in my world, if I come across a word I don’t know, I look it up. According to Mrs. Hodgins, my 7th and 8th grade honors English teacher, this is how you grow a great vocabulary.
Okay, granted, maybe she did that because she thought readers wouldn’t know what the word meant, but if that was the case, she shouldn’t she have said, “Perhaps you could use a word here that readers would more easily recognize and understand”? Instead, what she did was slap a question mark on the word, which told me that my vocabulary probably outstrips hers. And I mean, really. What professional admits to a lack of knowledge in such a way? If I wanted to be taken seriously as an editor, would I tell an author that I didn’t know the meaning of a word? Not me. I woulda looked up the word, used the comment I made above about people perhaps not understanding the word, and never let on to the author that I had no clue what that word meant.
So is it wrong of me to respect her opinion less because I knew a word she didn’t, and she showed me her soft underbelly by letting me know she didn’t know the word?
Anyway, the “real” versus “online” issue is one I’ve seen batted around for the entire fourteen years I’ve been online. My friend Hilly and I have a similar take on this. Our friendships online aren’t really any different than the relationships we have with people we see every day. You see, communication is the key to any relationship, and when you’re talking to someone in IM or email, you’re communicating with them sometimes more than you do to the people who are physically around you. My question to people who think there is a difference is, why is a relationship only valid or real if the person is physically in front of you?
I don’t happen to feel that “IRL” is something different to what takes place online. However, I don’t deal with people in an untruthful way online either. I don’t portray myself as something or someone that I’m not. And besides, people can lie to you to your face. They can tell you they’re something they’re not and give you enough evidence to make you believe their lie. You can be duped in person almost as easily as you could be duped online, which brings me right back to the issue of… “real” versus “online”.
This isn’t something that will probably ever change, although in the past couple of years, I’ve seen many more people shift toward the belief that there isn’t a dividing line between these kinds of relationships. I know I can’t really convey this point as well as Hilly does either. I’ve seen her express it very well. If I can find her blog post, I’ll post a link, because it’s a discussion and disagreement in philosophy that isn’t going to go away.
Another interesting thing that came about this morning regarding Silver Linings is that the message board contest I originally wrote it for chose a winner. Wasn’t Silver Linings, although that doesn’t surprise me either. However, the winner was a dear friend of mine, so yet again, I do not feel rejected! Hmmn. I sense a trend here.
My final thoughts on my rejections come down to this: When I wrote Silver Linings, part of this story came from a deep seated feeling inside myself, a fantasy really, of connecting with a past love whom I’ve never 100% gotten over. I wanted the piece to feel rather like a fantasy, with a twist at the end, which is why you don’t even know Maris’ real name until then. I didn’t want to take this story beyond 6K words. I didn’t want to delve into these people’s lives. I just wanted to convey their feelings.
Today, I’ve got a few ideas for expanding Silver Linings, something I hadn’t wanted to do. Perhaps I hadn’t wanted to expand on the story because of it’s connections to my past and the man I left behind. I mean, what person really wants to pick at a 20 year old wound? But maybe I need to. Maybe Maris and Alex need a better chance than I’ve given them. Maybe there are more than 5100 words in them. So, maybe, this rejection happened for a reason…
Or could just be over thinking all of it. Heh.