I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD SLAPS, SPEED BUMPS and LIGHTBULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life.

They were published once, and as every writer knows, once is not enough.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Writer non grata on date night

A query, the subject du jour of late, is a lot like an evening of speed dating.

We have to dress just right. Wear black and one guy goes Goth, wear red and another sits there popping Viagra. Wear beige and the only person who will talk to you is the bouncer and he’s married. Heals, flats, flip flops or Uggs some get turned on by ‘showing’ toes and some just want to talk about them. Wear your hair down, up, short, long, dyed, shaved or slick, how’s a girl to know?

Everybody gives you advice, be smart, cute, be truthful, mirthful or obtuse. Show don’t tell, be concise, be lean, but not too lean, show a little flesh but not too much.

Querying is like seeking a partner for life based on your own personal logo and a catch-phrase.

Ten years after I graduated from high school I received a letter from the alumni committee. They wanted me to fill out a questionnaire about what I had been doing for the past ten years. Then I would get a booklet with all the updates of my former classmates. So I filled out the questionnaire, padded it a little, but stayed true to who I was and what I had achieved, which wasn’t much at the time. Sure enough, in the mail came the booklet.

I graduated half a nation away from my fellow alums and there were over 1000 in my class. Because I had not seen even one, in ten years, I sat down with my yearbook and matched pictures with updates. I laughed, I cried, was surprised and even disappointed. Then I came to an update that said this, and I am quoting exactly, not because I have the booklet in front of me but because I have never forgotten it even three decades later. 

“You didn’t care about me then, you don’t care about me now, so why should I update you?”

I looked at the girl’s picture. I remembered her face as a ghost in the hallway. She was right, I did not know her and ten years later, though I felt sorry for her feelings of alienation, I did not feel compelled to reach out to someone who created barely a shadow in my memory.

Queries are like that. If I am not dynamic, with whitened teeth, flawless execution and perfectly dressed words I am shadowless.

Which makes me, “writer non grata” and leaves me sitting at the end of the bar in my beige dress, looking at pictures of the bouncer’s wife and kids on his cell phone.

Don’t ‘cha just hate speed dating?


  1. Hah, and I actually DO "dress for the date" when I'm at a conference and doing an in person pitch! :)

    Right there with you in the querying, though. It's a frustrating thing. And, in some ways, it's almost worse than beige or red or black, because there's a filter in place - the absence of actual contact or sight or nuance - and you may think you put on beige, but they may be seeing grey or olive or who knows what.

    It's like that query someone wrote to Janet about - one was judged by all to be bad, but got results, and one was judged by all to be spiffing, and it yielded no success at all. It really is judging blind. I've got a query Janet herself has seen and said was good, but it got 5 rejections in 3 days before 1 full request. Guess which responses I "felt" the most ... !

    1. All I can say is that my latest query has gotten the nicest rejections ever. What's that about anyway?
      If your full is still with an agent, good luck and if it was, or is, a no go, it's their loss.

    2. She's still got it (just sent the ms to her yesterday), and 4 new queries out over the weekend. Thank you! :)

      Nice rejections are the best because at least they often give you an idea what's WORKING. Hoorah for that!

  2. Ms. Betty w/two T's. This is, IMHO, the BEST blog post you've ever written! I Loved It. LOVED it. And actually, I say good for the ghost girl. Nah! In your face, you buncha shallow twits.

    Oh. Sorry.

    Anywhoo, this was very good. We sure have been on a roll over at JR's blog, no? Sheesh...sometimes I wonder if we're wearing her out with our craziness.

  3. Oh Donna, thank you so much. Your kind words mean a lot.

    Regarding JR's blog, God bless that woman and her patience with us bunch of pseudo stand up comics.