I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.
– Sylvia Plath
Long story short, I sent out a draft of my book* to a friend for a review, and the review came back that she had stopped reading at about 70 pages because she just couldn’t get into it, and that if you haven’t hooked the reader by 70 pages, then you never will because they will stop reading.
So, the first reaction was feeling that this was a personal stab to the heart; it’s like she told me my child looked like a gnome. I don’t think that part is avoidable. It was a first draft, and I don’t think anyone’s first draft comes out anywhere near perfect. I read that part of her email again, and…nope it was still a stab to the heart.
Then, I did what I did when I was back in college. I used to bounce back quickly back then. I remembered that I really enjoyed self-identifying as a problem-solver. For some reason, rejection never seemed to be a surprise then, it used to be something that just happened, and something that you turned into a problem to be solved. It’s an old skill that I used to do instinctively, and that I’d like to learn again.
I’m going to try to break the 70 pages of unreadability into manageable parts. What exactly worked or didn’t? I think her assessment was useful and timely – I’m at a place where I can do something about it, but I would like something more concrete than that she couldn’t get through it. I have some guesses on what went wrong, and if I think on it a bit, I can come up with some solutions. So life goes on.
*Co-book. I’ve co-written a book, but to lessen confusion, I will use “my.”