Saturday, September 29, 2012

SUBJECTIVE: The longest four-letter word.

As a writer it's damn near impossible to survive the trenches of an agent/publisher search without becoming  painfully familiar with the word SUBJECTIVE. According to Dictionary.com it means, pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; according to a writer, however, it means, your so-called manuscript sucks ass chunks and makes pelvic itching sound appealing. 

Subjectivity BLOWS. It shatters dreams, wounds pride, and stifles progress. It is at the root of every rejection email you've ever received. You know the one. From DREAM AGENT who compliments you on the uniqueness of your voice, the complexity of your characters, only to finish with, "In the end, I just didn't connect with story the way I should have in order to offer representation. Of course, this is a subjective opinion, and another agent may feel differently..."...and that's the moment when your head hits the keyboard, your knuckles run white, and your muse adopts 1/5 a day habit. It's a killer folks. It's without a doubt the longest four letter word in our language. And, *shields eyes from monitor while fingers keep typing* it is totally legit.

Aaaahh!! Please, don't un-follow me! Let me explain.

You see, earlier this month I was invited to be a judge in an early round of Deana Barnhart's ambitious/amazing agent search contest known as GUTGAA. Over 160 brave, talented authors submitted their opening passages and pitches, over four different blogs, to be scrutinized by myself and 19 other authors. I had no idea what I was in store for when I agreed--let me just say, WOW.

Of the forty entries I had the opportunity to consider over at Robin Weeks' place, there truly wasn't a bad one in the bunch. Each submission was polished, well-executed, and most of all, well-written. Awesome, right?! WRONG! With so many amazing entries, how in the world was I going to choose only ten?! And then it dawned on me. I had to honor that thing inside of me that gravitated toward a certain voice, a specific style of writing, or a plot line that smacked me in the face and called me Susan. I had to be...subjective.

I hate that subjectivity is part of the writer's world, but after this experience I now know that it really does have a place. It's what allows for a-typical books to find the shelf inside a Barnes & Noble, and unique perspectives to find a home in the sea of vanilla voices those without subjectivity are too afraid to say no to.

To all the GUTGAA participants, especially those I had the opportunity to judge, I want to congratulate you on being audacious. It takes big cajones to let the world see your work. I also want to assure you that the only way you are guaranteed to fail is if you quit--so please, DON'T QUIT! The world needs you and your amazing books. Don't let our subjectivity get you down. There will be an agent, an editor, who gets your book--it's just a matter of finding them.

(For any who care, my pseudonym while judging was BEEZER. A childhood nickname I just can't seem to shake)