Sunday, May 13, 2007

Is It Any Good?

Most of the time, a writer creates in a vacuum. As she toils from sunup to sundown in a cramped and dank cupola, hunched over her iMac with a pot of extra-strength House Blend on a hot plate, she has no idea if what she is writing is any good or if it will interest anyone besides herself.

Believe it or not, that’s the best time of all, when the story is all hers. She can write whatever she wants and not worry about anyone else. The story can be a thousand pages long and ramble on about killer bunnies and global warming and include handmade drawings of fancy cakes (with appropriate captions, obviously). For better or worse, and those killer bunnies are the worst, the point is, the story is the writer’s alone.

But then it’s finished. Or at least a first draft is finished. And it has to be shared. Some writers have readers, valued individuals whose opinions they trust. Some have writing groups, on-line or in person. A copy of the manuscript is printed or emailed or acted out by mimes and the writer goes back to her cupola, makes another pot of coffee and plays Solitaire on her computer until the judgments come in.

If a writer is very lucky, she will get some useful feedback from her reader(s), constructive criticism she can use to make the story more cohesive, more entertaining, more…good. And let’s face it, the question all writers ask of their readers is, “Is it any good?”

(Actually, the first time I wrote a novel, I asked my readers, “Is it a novel?” Because I honestly didn’t know. I felt like it was. It certainly had the right number of pages and it had people talking and some descriptive passages but I didn’t know if it was an actual novel, like one of those millions I had read or seen in libraries and on TV. Imagine my relief when someone said, “Yes, this is a novel.” He didn’t elaborate on its goodness but I was too na├»ve at that point to know that was the real question to be asked. Onward and upward.)

And if the writer is hugely lucky, like winning the lottery lucky, the person who is reading it is her editor at a publishing house and she is giving feedback so the writer can make her story publishable because believe me, most books are not publishable in first draft, unless your name is Stephen King.

And after many, many months of round-the-clock work in her stinky, cockroach-infested cupola, the writer finally emerges with a decent book that is deemed publishable by her editor.

And then it too must go out into the world and be received by, one hopes, the masses who will pass judgment - and tell others!

I am pleased to announce my book has been judged by two reviewers, one named Alice on the website and the other, Jeremey, on the website Both are awesome sites and include loads of reviews of all sorts of novels. I immediately bookmarked them both because they give me an idea of what people who read my book also like - and don’t like.

And yes, I bookmarked them because they have positive reviews for LOVE, MEG. Sue me.

So please, check out the sites and take note of novels you want to read. There’s a lot of great advice from some very smart reviewers.

Your Hollywood connection,