Saturday, December 16, 2006

Like watching goldfish in a blender

Wondering what to do with your NaNoWriMo high, now that it's been a couple of weeks since crossing the 50,000-word finish line? Why not drop by Miss Snark's blog, where the anonymous but appropriately pseudonym-ed literary agent is running another one of her Crapometer sessions, where she publicly critiques the submissions of aspiring writers. In the past she's done first pages, query letters, and synopses, but this time around Miss Snark is evaluating 250-word "hooks", getting down to the very essence of making the sale.

In a particularly unfortunate bit of synchronicity, this fourth Crapometer falls just after the completion of NaNoWriMo 2006, so there are a lot of recent Nano vets throwing themselves right into the razor-sharp maw of Killer Yapp (Miss Snark's poodle, who has a blog of his own). While I'm by no means disparaging anyone for being willing to do such a thing, it seems a dubious prospect for someone whose experience with the writing process is so brand spanking new.

The main problem is that we all want to be told that we are beautiful snowflakes, because after all weren't we so clever as to be able to write an entire novel in the space of just one month? It's this same equation of enthusiasm with talent, however, that impels countless people to audition for American Idol season after season, regardless of whether they can sing on key or not. Wanting it is great -- and truth be told you're going to need that kind of tireless enthusiasm to persevere in a business such as this -- but just wanting it isn't even close to being enough.

Conversely, the most terrible thing would be for a Nano to take rejection at such an early stage as some sort of indication that he or she was simply not meant to write. The simple fact of the matter is that learning become a writer is a process, not a lottery. Sure, every once in a while some phenom will be discovered without having to collect so many rejection letters that you could wallpaper a moderately-sized hotel with them, but this is the exception. Most of the people in this world who are doing that which they were "meant" to be doing are either extremely lucky or have worked extremely hard, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred these people are both lucky and hard-working.

I guess in a sense the Crapometer serves a useful function aside from sheer entertainment value (and mind you, it is quite entertaining!), insofar as it demonstrates how all of this has simply been prologue. At least Miss Snark has extended the courtesy of something other than a form letter in response to everyone's submission, though I wonder what's worse: a rubber-stamp rejection opened up in the comfort and privacy of one's own home, or a big fat "WTF" for all to see?

No comments: