I met with Gail Bowen yesterday- the author who looked at the first 25 pages of my manuscript. It was a really good meeting. She was friendly and helpful and very positive about my book. She gave back the 25 pages with her edits as well as things she liked. It was nice to be able to talk face to face with someone who is in the business already and hear her advice.
Interestingly enough, she didn't give me quite as much negative as I'd hoped. She did give a few suggestions- some of which I will definitely follow through on, one big one I have to seriously think about. But in all, most of what she had to say was positive.
Which brought me to wonder... is it possible that my book isn't absolute rubbish after all? After receiving 20+ rejections, it's natural to think that something is wrong with it. That I have some major issues somewhere that need to be fixed. But... could it actually be... dare I say it, good? Or even better than that- really good? (I tremble at the very thought.)
After thinking the above as I drove home from the appointment, I quickly tossed that possibility aside and considered something more plausible, and probably more realistic.
Maybe she is someone who doesn't want to give negative feedback because she doesn't think that will be helpful. Maybe, deep down, she thinks my book is horribly bad but doesn't want to say that out loud because, let's face it- that's mean.
So here's the golden question: If you have this dream that you happen to suck at really bad (but you don't know it), is it better to keep trying at it and trying at it for most of your life even though you won't ever get anywhere (because you suck)? OR is it better to have someone just tell you the truth- that you will never accomplish that dream so just give up now instead of wasting your time/life pursuing it?
I can't help but think of Simon Cowell. So rude, so mean, sometimes reduces people to tears. But anytime I watch him crush someone's dream of becoming a singer, I can't help but think that he's doing them a favor. He's being honest. People who can't carry a tune should never EVER try to sing solos in public- it's just not fair to the rest of the world. And why bother trying over and over to become a singer when no matter how many singing lessons you take, or auditions you go to, you will never be a good singer.
Isn't it the same with everything- writers included? Sure, I can write and write and write some more, maybe finishing ten or twenty books in the next twenty years. And maybe I would get a little better as the time goes by. But if I just don't have it to begin with, wouldn't it be fairer for someone to just tell me now, so I can move on?
Would I really like that though? Do I really want someone to crush my dreams so brutally, so finally? I think it's good for others, but what would I do if someone actually told me that I suck? Would I quit? Or would it spur me on to try harder (even if it meant twenty or more years of pointless writing)?
I read once that someone told JK Rowling that she would never get published as a children's author so she should just stop trying. Can you imagine if she had listened to him/her? There would be no Harry Potter (I cringe at the thought). She wouldn't have made ka-billions. The world would be a much sadder place because of all the kids who wouldn't have entered the wonderful world of books all because of a boy wizard.
I don't have the answers to any of my questions. What I do know is that I appreciate every bit of encouragement I get- from Gail Bowen, from my husband and sister who have read my book twice, from my two sisters-in-law who both read a very early and frightening draft, to every person out there who has heard I've written a book and tell me- good for you! Keep at it! I'm not going to quit. At least not yet. Maybe my book is rubbish. Maybe it belongs in a trash bin. Maybe I have no place whatsoever writing novels.
But maybe, just maybe, my book is actually good. Maybe one day I'll see it sitting on the bookshelf at Chapters. Maybe one day, next year or ten years from now, my dreams might just come true.