|Don't do it, Randy. They're not worth it. Those judges have no idea what they have done!|
Since this has consumed so much of my time already, I am dragging my blog readers in it with me, because there are some (rather obvious) lessons for writers in it. Randy has something to teach us all.
Randy was among the 8,000 people who were cut in the first round. This is his paraphrased (to save you the same anguish suffered by original readers of the lengthy exchange) story...
I feel I've written a really good, maybe even a great book. Several years ago, I was offered a contract to publish it. That means at least four, highly-trained readers and an editor read the book and said it was worthwhile. My lawyer found some problems with the contract...a 50 percent split on movie/TV development and while we were haggling, the contract was withdrawn because they were publishing something else. They said they'd come back to me after they'd dealt with him, but my editor left. So, yes, I do feel my book is better than the ones who advanced.
|Not Buzz (yet)|
So now, instead of counting hundred dollar bills out into stacks of fifty, I spend my days selling 'Big Ideas' on the street for a nickel a piece.
|"This is the greatest story ever written, Randy!"|
"My minor success have caused me to try harder, but contests are judged subjectively and there's nothing we can do about that until robots do the judging."
|Randy at his book launch.|
RANDY'S BOOK (name changed to protect, well, Randy) is a masterpiece of spiritual exploration like Pilgrim's Progress, A Separate Peace, and The Catcher in the Rye. Profound, profane and consciousness stretching, RANDY'S BOOK is a life-altering reading experience.*
*note that the entire passage has been highlighted because it is, every word of it, just that good.
|ill tempered Buzz. Jesus, that guy is fat.|
Randy, Randy, Randy...where on earth shall I begin. Perhaps I should begin at the ending...your ending...the part where it says that reading your book "is a life-altering reading experience."
Really? Is it really, Randy? Here's the thing, and I'm only spit balling here, so I may be way out in left field, but...hearing that coming from you, the author, makes me think, "pretentious ass," and "I wouldn't read it now if I were stranded on an island for fifty years with nothing but a palm tree, the baking sun, and that book."
Try to imagine with me, for just a moment, that you aren't the smartest human being on the face of the earth and there is other intelligent life out there. Now imagine that there tens of thousands of brilliant souls on the planet, each of them hacking away on their keyboards, and each of them creating things.
NOW...and here's the kicker...now, just imagine that each of those equally intelligent souls has a mind of their own, and are unique, and some of them like books about strawberries, while others enjoy novels about teenage strawberry eating vampires. And perhaps sometimes, when you enter a competition, your book is read by someone who has different tastes than you or I do, and would find the act of taking a crap slightly more "life altering" than reading your novel. Is it possible? Or have you unraveled the mystery of individuality and written the very first universally worshiped work of art in the history of the planet?
Which is it, I wonder?
A) Randy has written the single most amazing piece of literature in the history of mankind and this competition has foolishly rejected it, thus angering the Gods, who are now hell bent on destroying the Earth and every form of life upon it.
or is it...
B) Maybe the reader, being an individual, didn't like something in Randy''s pitch, like the part where Randy said that reading his book was "a life-altering reading experience" that we can only assume is the equivalent of personally meeting Jesus.
I would have a hard time choosing between a and b. Since it looks like it's going to sit in a drawer for another year no one will know whether it's hype or real. The hook is a person who thinks he has a God-given mission and must deal with the burden of that vision. According to Buzz, it must be autobiographical. I do admit that the subject should appeal to writers who feel they have something to say.
This is followed by more complaints about the inequities of life, etc, etc...
Writing is sacrifice. We write because we must. We have to. It is hard wired into our DNA, and there is nothing that we can do about it. Almost everyone who has written a manuscript has sacrificed to do it. I have sacrificed in the way of money, career, relationships, time with loved ones, etc.
What I have to show for it all is a few poorly edited, self-published novellas in my wake (that I plan on updating before I die), a few unedited first drafts, a bank account that is currently in the red, a pile of overdue bills, and a mountain of laundry.
By and large, we are all in the same boat. We are writers. There is no magic fairy tale at the end of the rainbow. There is only more writing to be done, and an eternity of editing and revisions, followed by death (which we pray will hold off until the next first draft has been completed, but not for fear of death so much as the fear that the damned book will never get finished).
I understand that you believe that your book is the greatest story ever written. It's important for us to believe in our work, or no one else ever will. BUT...it is equally as important for you to remember that to the world, you are a guy named Randy who wrote a book. There are a hundred thousand guys named Randy who wrote a book and believe in theirs as much as you do yours. Some of them are better writers than you are. Some of them are worse. Sometimes the only motivation that a reader (or agent, or judge, etc.) has to choose which Randy book they will ultimately read, is how well they associate with Randy, and his words, in a simple blurb, and how much they like him.
If I met a girl who I really liked and I wanted her to spend time with me, I would not open the conversation by telling her that I was the greatest lover on the planet (even if it is probably true). I would not tell her that being with me would change her world forever (even though it would...for better or for worse). I would introduce myself, show some humility and respect, and hope that she ultimately decided to invest some of her time with me. This is SHOWING versus TELLING, and it is what you need to work on.
Your pitch...for lack of a better word...sucks. It doesn't tell me how you write, or what your style is, or what sort of voice I should expect when I read the book. It is only some guy named Randy telling me how good he is in bed, or, rather, that this, his book, is the greatest thing since sliced bread. This leads me to believe (true or not) that the book probably sucks too. THINK. ABOUT. IT.
Please. Don't be a Randy.
Thanks for Reading.