rlbourges

Yardsticks

In Music, Querying, Synopsis on March 14, 2015 at 8:11 am

If seeing any of your writing in print means anything to you, this is a must-read. Why? Because it’s honest, it’s funny, it’s daunting and it catches the flavor of a specific microcosm. For me, the  reading is made even funnier by the total disconnect between the deal-making world in New York and the present realities in my life – most of which I cannot discuss here, and some of which I attempt to re-cast in fictional terms.

I’m spending long stretches of my time in reviewing agency websites at the moment. Alert to an elusive something that might signal a path through the hype, the glitz and the plain old misrepresentations; and also, much as in Goldilocks, a sense of the right size container for the stories I write.

Success – by whose yardstick. From a publisher’s viewpoint: the biggest possible return on his or her investment. From a good agent who cares about the work and about his or her own reputation: best possible client list and satisfactory deals struck. For the writer? Depends on the writer, of course. For this writer? Finding the right audience. Which begins with finding the right agent once I’ve done everything I can with the story and its unavoidable synopsis.

One of the agents I’ve tagged for a query likes to receive the one-page version of a synopsis. Something like building a model of the ship inside a tiny bottle. An interesting challenge, if only as a voyage of discovery into what it was you truly wrote and what truly matters in that writing. I’ll give it a try.

It may sound silly but, in many instances, the very glossiness and perfection of the artwork and promotional copy on display puts me ill at ease. What? I want a grungy-looking  book and spelling mistakes in the blurb? No, I want a book cover that looks something like the content. There’s nothing slick about the world in which I live and write. Not much expectation of making the list of Biggest, Most Outstanding, Most Awesome Ten Best Ever anything. Most of the characters in my stories are like the people I encounter every day: they know the odds are against them, they know the game is rigged. They laugh anyway because laughter is something way more precious than their rating in a rigged game. The day may come when there’s a tax applied to laughter – heck, at this point, some people are getting jail terms or lashings for playing the Fool – a role even kings understood as crucial to their social order.

So. Off goes Ravel’s Le Petit Poucet through a forest of high rises springing up around him. The pigeons ate the crumbs, the street cleaner swept away the pebbles. Allez? Allez.

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