As planned, I paid for a professional review of my agent submission pack (letter, synopsis and first two chapters). The report was mildly complimentary but ultimately inconclusive so I bit the bullet and ordered an editorial review of the complete MS of The White Lady. That was just over a month ago.
I received the report two days ago, halfway through England’s World Cup semi-final match (I know! What on earth was I doing checking emails?!) and of course I read it immediately, very quickly. I couldn’t resist. It was long, forensically detailed and very, very critical of many aspects of plot and character development and motivation. I had anticipated a tough report but it was far worse than I had expected. I was deeply disappointed and utterly demoralised.
And then England lost to Croatia.
It’s taken me two days to get back on my feet. The first 24 hours I veered between denial (it’s only one person’s opinion!), anger (she just doesn’t get me!) and sadness. I was kept afloat by friends old and new and by reading a kind and very practical post on Andrew Wille’s blog.
It was Andrew who suggested I try to identify the “gifts” presented by the report. At first I laughed a hollow, bitter laugh but then, early this morning in the gym, I had a glimmer of insight and things started to fall into place. Here (in the interests of the devastating honestly that is the hallmark of this blog) are my first three gifts:
- This report has given me a reality check; an opportunity to stop me making a t*** of myself in public and a second chance to write something less over-heated and self-indulgent.
- This report has validated my own instinct – and, yes, the opinion of some of my readers – that something was not quite right with certain aspects of the book.
- This report has given me a timely nudge to be more flexible in my thinking; permission to let the mental discipline slip, throw away the writing schedule and send my story into free-fall.