No One’s Ever Told Me That Before

Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this. It could get me in trouble.

Of course when has that ever stopped me before?

One of my huge pet peeves in life is to be asked for advice or to give my opinion or to review another person’s writing … and, when I have obliged them be told, “No one’s ever told me that before. Where did you hear that? What’s your source? Show me the editor who thinks that and I’ll believe you.”

Okay, so no one ever told you before and that means …

what, exactly? Everything I’ve said is wrong? I’m the first so it’s all questionable? You’re surprised beyond belief because you’ve never seen it yourself? I’m left wondering. Scritch, scratch.

I guess, actually, I know I’m weird. When I ask someone else for their opinion or a review, that’s what I want and when it comes back I’m open to anything it says. If I can use it, I will and if not I smile and ignore it. Why create drama over something that doesn’t matter to me?

Maybe that’s my answer.

My mentor used to tell me that if you get in a fight and start cussing at the other person or calling them names, you’ve lost the argument because you’ve quit thinking rationally. At that point you need to stop and figure out what caused you to become emotionally attached to what they said and why it matters so much.

Same goes with opinions and reviews. If you ask for one and then start arguing with the person who gave it, they have hit a nerve. Something in what they’ve said MATTERS. A lot, sometimes.

I’ve reviewed a lot of stuff this last week in an online critique group. I have a form I use so I look for the same things from each person. Having never met any of these people face-to-face, I feel we are all on even footing.

Some of my reviews have met with great response. I’m finding more and more that these are people who genuinely like to write and want to do the best job they can on what they are writing and they aren’t afraid to change things.

And then there’s that other review … the one where two different people told me “No one’s ever mentioned that before.” One of them wanted me to name the agent/editor who told me and went on at great length to explain her editor’s POV on the matter. They urged me to cite references, etc.

I refrained my comments.

If I hadn’t, I would have said this:

So, you can’t think for yourself? If an agent/editor hasn’t said it before, it’s all a mute point? Our agent/editor is a GOD who knows everything? If that were the case, and the editor/agent knew exactly what would sell a book and what wouldn’t, why haven’t they just given you a list of the rules and told you exactly what to write? Last time I checked, publishing was one thing … selling was a whole different cookie. Point in fact – I’m reading (albeit very slowly because it is laborious to read) a novel that won an Agatha Award. That’s a BIG deal, right? Problem is, every writer/editor/agent/author I’ve ever spoken to, talked with, heard lecture, etc preached that writing in omniscient voice is a huge TABOO. This book that won the Agatha award … is written in omniscient voice. And it’s popular. It made the NYT list. And the author has published five more in the series since then.

What does that tell you about writing conventions in the publishing world?

However, I didn’t say any of that. At least not to them. I said it to my husband who I’m not sure understood what I was even talking about, but at least he listened. Instead, I said, “Oh, okay. Since no one else has ever mentioned it before, I guess I shouldn’t either …”

I mean, really. Let’s all just crawl in a hole and pretend there is nothing new out there to learn. What would I know anyway …

Ugh.

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