Poetic Meltdown

Shooting for the Moon

Shooting for the Moon, but not quite focused

I’ve been trying to get a good photo of the moon from my terrace.  As yet unsuccessful, but still trying.  I took a few  shots last night and when I was uploading them today, I realized that in some ways this photo nails what I’ve been feeling and thinking these last several days.  A little further away than I’d like, not as sharp as I’d like, out and visible just a little too early.

Writing, working on the WIP.  I’m getting close to the end, but it still feels very far away.  Further than it actually is.  And I’m antsy about it.  But if I’m honest, I’m also totally and completely excited.  So I’m doing exactly what you aren’t supposed to do, obsessing over my belief that this is the ONE.

I believe it, and I shouldn’t.  It’s good.  I think it’s really good.  I think it’s good enough to happen.  But is it marketable?  Is it marketable enough?  I fucking hope so, but I’m not an agent or a publisher.  And it’s magical realism, a genre that makes most people say “huh?” when I mention it.  Umm, surrealist fiction, sort of.  The conversation only gets more jumbled when the other person asks what it’s like, and the only authors I can think of who are known for magical realism are authors no one of the unwashed and unpublished persuasion should ever compare themselves to.  Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez?  Isabel Allende?  Salman Rushdie?  Paulo Coelho?  Toni Morrison?  Umm, it’s weird.  *I am not trying to suggest my writing is up there with the aforementioned authors.  It’s the style/sub-genre of literary fiction.

I should be cool.  Tattoo all the stats and odds against me across my forehead while I continue writing and face a mirror, and know that this might or might not be the ONE.  In the interest of balancing reality and dreams, I’ve been working on the query letter.  Another shouldn’t.  This one–I shouldn’t hate query letters.  They’re a tool, one of a few used to catch an agent’s eye.  But I do hate them, because I’m not very good at them, and so I figured it would be a good idea to start working on this well in advance of sending any out.  Less pressure.  But really, looking at a blank document and typing “Query” across the top, all I want to say is this:

Pretty sure that would be the ultimate cliche.  Would that change it from cliche to kitsch?  Hmmm.  I’ve been getting some feedback–questions and thoughts–from several excellent, skilled query writers.  I really want to stomp my feet and say well fine, you write it for me. Except a) that isn’t cool, and b) I would be even less happy with what any of them wrote than with what I come up with.  I have no doubts what they came up with would be enticing and fantabulous, but it wouldn’t sound like my “voice,”  or capture the tone in Astonishing.

Queries are always tricky beasts, and I’m having a particularly tough time capturing the right notes in this one.  One thing keeps sticking in my head.  I already tortured my buddy kk whining about this.  I can’t whine to Husband, his response is “just write, you lunatic you.”  OK, he doesn’t actually say that last part, but I can see him thinking it.

Your turn, Fringelings!   A couple of people used the word “poetic” in reference to what I wrote in the query–and I know that I still haven’t hit the right note.  Poetic sounds suspiciously like a polite substitute for “purple.”  For any readers who aren’t writers, “purple prose” is the phrase for overwritten, melodramatic scenes, usually stated with a sneer.  The manuscript is not purple.  Descriptive, but not purple.  I’ve been happy with the feedback I’ve received so far on Astonishing itself, and much of my feeling pleased centers around a few readers using terms like “clear,” and “clarity.”  (And squirm, but that’s a Mrs Fringe thing, I love it when a reader really feels the scene, mwahahaha)  Clarity is important in any writing, but when I’m writing lit fic, it’s probably the biggest compliment I could receive.

I wrote poetry a million years ago, in my angsty teen years.  In my mind I was Anne Sexton.  In reality, I was more like Patti Smith circa 1977 at the end of a show, angry and sweaty and wanting to make. my. fucking. point.

I’m nervous.  Because I do believe Astonishing is The Right One, at the Right Time, written with the Right Words.  God knows I spend hours reading and rereading and taking out the Wrong Words.

Dear Agent,

Please read my manuscript.  It’s better than my query.

Thank you,

Mrs Fringe

Anne Sexton

Cover of Anne Sexton

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26 comments

    1. Thank you Mrs C ❤

      When you are trying to solicit interest from agents in the US–for a completed novel (only completed), you send a "query letter." A brief email that tells about your story, focusing on the primary character, conflict, stakes…and of course, genre and word count. Some agents also want a synopsis, some the first few pages pasted in, others want a chapter or two.

      This is all in hopes that an agent will be interested, and request either a "partial" or a "full," which of course then leads to hopes of an offer of representation.

      I'm not sure about where you are, I know for many UK agents it's more of a straightforward cover letter than a typical American query letter. 🙂

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  1. Well poo, mrs fringe. i just now posted something on my own and thought, I haven’t visited my sweet mrs fringe in a while. saw all your photos, you really capture NYC. In its glory and not so glorious. As for your query and genre and all that, no concensus here that I can see. And you know what I think already, it is what it is. Literary, infused with magical realism. something like that, anyway.

    Poo, mrs fringe. why do you suffer so? True, today I’m looking at life with a slightly different bend. But here’s my take, fwiw: you are a fine writer and if you are a lucky writer, somebody out there is going to fall in love with ASTONISHING and champion your novel for you, and see that it gets published, that it gets the audience and recognition it deserves. You’re a fine and thoughtful writer and this novel, above all others, is a gift. Both to and from yourself. You wrote what you wanted to write, what needed to be written. Call it what you will, mrs fringe. Send it to whomever. My fingers are crossed for you and I’m wishing you every good thing.

    xo kk

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    1. Thank you, kk. Always, thank you. You know I go back and forth, up and down. Hell half the time I’m just spinning. Blah.

      I guess I’m still a bit stuck in my belief that luck/timing/whathaveyou is a very real element of success, vs the publishing adage that “cream rises to the top.” So if I don’t rise, I suck? 😮

      Well, I think I’m going to close my eyes and pretend I’m Patti Smith. This is my work, like it or don’t. Or maybe Helen Reddy. Hear me roar!!!

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    1. Hah! And I can’t imagine producing visual art. I think I’m the only luddite left who has yet to figure out Photoshop. 😉 I actually do a lot of editing and rewriting as I go. I don’t move forward until the previous scenes/chapters convey what I need them to–and if something comes to me later I go back to it before continuing, so it’s mostly clean up left at the end. 🙂

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      1. That’s a lot smarter than my word count blitz – I’m at about 60K and have not edited a thing – Maybe I just need to dig in a section at a time and clean it up before moving on.

        Photoshop is overrated 🙂 I work in it daily and try to stay away from it when shooting for myself. You aren’t missing much IMO 🙂

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        1. Everyone’s process is different, some people prefer to just write it all down, and then work through drafts. I’m too anal to be that freeform. :p

          One of my goals is to learn how to use my own settings and stuff (like my technical knowledge?) on the camera. I guess when/if I do, I’ll have to learn about post processing at the same time. 🙂

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          1. If you can capture data – a good clear exposure, then photoshop can do wonders. I do very subtle editing, mostly because I want it to stay fun and not feel like work. But there are some tweeks that can really add to a photo if you have good data. Your shots are looking great – keep at it!

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