A quick aside: yes, I've kinda given up on adult books for a little while. I read a few Christopher Moore novels, a techno-thriller, and a funny superhero book - but ultimately I came back to kid lit. Why? Well, back to that in a minute...
First, WHEN YOU REACH ME.
Do you ever read a book and, when it's over, are unable to explain why it was so enjoyable? WHEN YOU REACH ME is so well written, it has great characters, and there's this great supernatural twist woven into the plot that, unlike so many others, isn't heavy handed. And she accomplished all of this in less than 200 pages. Amazing.
So I'm reading it and simultaneously thinking:
"This is important. You know, I should write something like this. Yeah, right. You CAN'T write something like this, dude. See? See that right there? Exactly. Just finish the book and stop dreaming..."
It is easily one of the best books I've ever read. I enjoyed it that much. Now, why I was reading it is a completely different story. Let's start at the beginning.
1.) I write a book - yay.
2.) I revise the book - meh.
3.) I revise the book - hey, okay.
4.) I revise the book - -_-
5.) I query agents - meh
6.) I sign with agent - yay
7.) I revise the book - again.
8.) One more time - okay, better now.
9.) We send the book out - yay
10.) I wait.
11.) I wait.
12.) I wait.
14.) Repeat 10-13.
I've purposefully not blogged, or even mentioined, my submission process. One, because it's not something I want public. Second, in a moment of frustration/rejection, maybe it's not best to share your *ahem* thoughts with the world? Third, my agent told me not to. ;)
I admit: the rejection was hard. Really hard. Because I care about that book. And I want it to be published more than I can probably convey on this blog. But that doesn't mean the reasons it isn't being published right now aren't valid. Of course, I won't get into specifics, because that goes back to not wanting everything about the process to be transparent (and, again, my agent probably wouldn't probably find it enlightening...) I do, however, want to say one thing thing: every person I've encountered in publishing is madly talented, intelligent, and they care about books.
Seriously. Some of the rejections I received were amazing in their detail. It was obvious they connected with my writing, which is such a validating thing. But it was also nice to have somebody who had nothing to gain from my writing say, "This part didn't work."
Can I just say how much I've really wanted an honest critique of my writing? Half the time, I feel like a hack (a fact I've mentioned more than once on this blog, I'm sure.) To even get a small crumb thrown my way, having somebody tell me my voice worked but the story needed to be bigger - that threw my eyes wide open. It showed me some of the holes in my own writing. It made me want to work harder, to get better, to write something memorable and, in a word, important.
And while I really think LEGENDARY DAYS has something to say, I also think there are better books inside me.
And that brings me back to WHEN YOU REACH ME.
I may or may not have decided to write a middle grade book. For junior high readers. Without some of my favorite words.
Like shit. And ass. And others.
I know. It will be hard. But maybe that's the beauty of it. Maybe such a stretch, such a different direction is exactly what I need to do right now.
So I picked up a few MG novels. DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA (great, btw), WHEN YOU REACH ME, and THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY. Reading these books has been a treat - an almost magical escape from the staleness I was feeling in the recent YA books I read.
And so that's what I'm doing. I'm starting to write a book that came to me on a very basic premise as I sat in the sun, watching my kids play in a sprinkler. It, too, may never get published. It may never even get on my agent's (or an editor's) desk. But like rejection, sometimes it's fun to take a risk. More than that, sometimes it's important and necessary.