Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Intimidation looks like this:
This was me last night. No, not the rottweiler. The scared, helpless chiwawa. Turns out, reading your manuscript in front of a bunch of angry savages (aka: fellow writers) is a lot more tough than you think... who'd have thought?

Sissy as I am, I waited a whole night before breaking out the bundle of pages full of feedback. I don't take criticism well when I'm tired. I figured I could be more rational about the comments if I faced them with a good night's sleep under my belt. Unfortunately, the "good night's sleep" didn't actually happen (I'm getting sick, go figure). Still, with at least SOME sleep under my belt and no more excuses to exhaust, I girded up my loins this morning and broke out the comments.

Thankfully, MOST of the comments were very helpful. Grammatical errors were sighted, cliches pointed out and story line revisions suggested. I felt quite happy about the advice I was getting... until, that is, I reached the last page of comments.

The direct quote, scribbled on my manuscript by a nondescript, black ball point pen, said: "Is this a history lesson or a story? Assume they will know or will learn it!"

Now, to be fair, this comment has some legitimacy. I do tend to get giddy about all things historical and legal, and I'll admit, I could probably tone down that a bit. But I was absolutely flabbergasted by the comment, simply because the paragraph she was referring to described a fictional Constitutional amendment that essentially combined the houses of Congress into one body and allowed Congressmen to extend their terms indefinitely.


Is this girl really trying to tell me that she doesn't know our current BICAMERAL system of government implements a Congress that is ELECTED and serves for FIXED terms??? (HR: 2 yrs; Senate: 6 yrs).

Wow. And I thought we learned that in second grade... Something tells me this girl has never cast a ballot in her life.

The funny (ironic) thing is, I've just been sitting here thinking that I was dumbing down the politics to a painful level. Apparently not. I suppose I'll need to describe how the current system really works, before describing whats going on in my fictional world. But then the book really would be a history lesson. And honestly, its not my job to educate America... all I want to do is tell an entertaining story! But how am I supposed to do that when people can't even tell the real life from the fiction??

After reading those particular comments I didn't feel like a chiwawa anymore. I began channeling my inner rottweiler as I entered a new level of concern for the future of our country. When grown, reasonably intelligent adults don't even know how I our system of government is structured, there is definitely cause for concern.


Ru said...

I think that's one of those things where you either need to ignore the comment altogether, or look at it from a "tone" kind of angle. Maybe this commenter is just uneducated on this point, or maybe the way you described this fictional amendment seemed more technical/authoritative than the tone of the rest of your story (ie, the "history lesson" v. "story" comment), so it seemed odd.

(Either way, it is kind of too bad that she wouldn't know it was imaginary amendment ... maybe she wasn't really paying attention?)

Julie said...

Ru: You may be right about the tone... that's a good suggestion. I'll have to go back and check how it compares with the rest of the story.

And I agree: WAY sad she wouldn't know a real from an imaginary amendment... come to think of it, also WAY sad if she just wasn't paying attention! Boo!

Laura said...

Hate to break it to you babe, but thats a Great Dane in your first picture, and a Pit Bull in the second. But I love the imagery!

I just want you to know though, that I think you are fantastic. You are gonna rock this book. Keep working hard and don't give up! Can't wait to read a hard bound copy. :) Loves.

Julie said...

Hahahaha! You are so right! While I didn't even think about it until now, its quite obvious once you pointed it out. I'll just chalk it up to my inner blonde ( ;

Thanks for the encouragment... its always appreciated!

Paul said...

hey i wouldnt worry about 'dumbming' down the politics in your book... if you think about it your intended audience is not the jealous fellow writer that flunked out of highschool government, but to people that understand politics or at least have a basic general knowledge on the subject... thats where you get alot of appeal to your book because people (or maybe just me) enjoy comtemplating what could possibly happen in the future if our government continues to run rampant and out of control

Julie said...

Thanks, Paul. And you're right. That's part of the book's appeal... the "what if" factor. And, as you said, I can't do the what ifs without including politics in the picture.

On a more consoling note, though, now that I've been to this writing group for a few more weeks, I've discovered that this particular person doesn't always have the best comments anyway. While the other--more experienced writers--seem to appreciate (even enjoy) my work, she doesn't seem to like it very much. And that's okay, its not for everyone, I suppose. But at least I know now not to put too much stock into what she's saying.