Enough already! At least that’s how I feel sometimes. I’ve been through my book more times than I can count. In my own defense, no one taught me how to write. I had a great story idea and decided to give it a whirl.
I thought it was ready, and then real life happened. My wonderful work was rejected by the five agents I sent it to. One of the them must of seen something promising, she took it upon herself to provide me feedback about what I was doing wrong (there was a long list), and what I needed to do to improve my work.
I was totally humiliated. Grammatical and Structural errors are kindergarten stuff and completely unacceptable. Even I should have gotten those right. I could understand my issues with head hopping and on-the-nose-writing. Those terms were totally foreign to me. I wasn’t a professional novelist. I thought all you had to do was put words on paper and create a wonderful story that everyone wanted to read. How was I to know there were rules?
And what was the deal with dragging dialogue? My people were talking. How was I suppose to know dialogue moved the story forward, or had to have some significance? I couldn’t believe I sent an agent such inferior work!
When you’re a newby, you don’t know how bad your work is, because you lack the knowledge and skills necessary to produce publishable work. While there may be a few prodigies out there, chances are, you aren’t one of them. Sorry!
Like myself and many others, you’re going to have to pay your dues and learn the craft. Then you will be ready to write that New York Times best seller.
One of my favorite saying is, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m not sure were I picked that up from, but it’s true. I wasn’t intentionally sending out bad work. I just didn’t know.
2 thoughts on “I Thought I Knew A Lot, Until I Learned A Little.”
“Grammatical and Structural errors are kindergarten stuff and completely unacceptable.”
I’ve seen strong evidence that even graduate students less than a year away from getting their masters’ degrees in English don’t necessarily know much about grammar and such (nor about story structure, avoiding head-hopping, or the simple fact that fiction isn’t the same as a thinly disguised autobiography in which nothing at all happens). You shouldn’t feel bad for not being an expert in something that even the supposed “experts” often can’t get right.
(There’s an all-too-common assumption that having a degree in English is what makes someone an expert on how to write fiction. Most successful fiction authors, especially those who don’t write literary fiction, don’t have degrees in English. Amongst sci-fi authors, for example, they’re more likely to have a degree physics or anthropology… if they have a university degree at all.)
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