Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Writer's Schizophrenia

I have had my share of rejection letters--and yes, each one is a little dart to the heart--but I usually respond by sending out a new smattering of agent queries. As an instructor, it reminds me to look for that interesting paragraph, sentence, or turn of phrase in student writing, and compliment it. Having been in sales for years and years, I try to keep in mind that each "no" is just some percentage of a yes, although in my case, I haven't quite figured out the ratio, but . . .

Today was a bit different. I received two emails at the same time about the exact same piece.

Email number one partially read, "While I like the idea of following an Elizabethan playwright, your writing itself seems both too forced and overly calm for the action it describes"--Ouch!

Email number two: "This is quite interesting so far! May I see the full manuscript, as a .doc attachment?"

I think I'll take Door Number Two.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

And the 2009 Winner Is . . .

Well, maybe not the winner, but the biggest loser in the Bulwer-Lytton Worst First Lines Contest is David McKenzie of Federal Way, Washington.

"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."

Bulwer-Lytton penned the famous line, "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents" causing sugary goo to run in the streets. It was a massacre at the Peeps factory (for that is where our story is set), bunny blue and peep yellow mixed in a cacophony of green slime that ran into gutters marked, 'Don't pour oil or hazardous waste--outlet to ocean.' . . . Sorry, I just couldn't help myself.

A couple of my favorites are:

"The appearance of a thin red beam of light under my office door and the sound of one, then two pair of feet meant my demise was near, that my journey from gum-shoe detective to international agent had gone horribly wrong, until I realized it was my secretary teasing her cat with a laser pointer," by Steve Lynch, San Marcos, CA.

AND . . .

"The wind dry-shaved the cracked earth like a dull razor--the double edge kind from the plastic bag that you shouldn't use more than twice, but you do; but Trevor Earp had to face it as he started the second morning of his hopeless search for Drover, the Irish Wolfhound he had found as a pup near death from a fight with a prairie dog and nursed back to health, stolen by a traveling circus so that the monkey would have something to ride," by Warren Blair, Ashburn, VA.

Go to the Bulwer-Lytton contest website for all the "winners".