My MSS gets slammed

Somewhere in my journey to getting ONE SEED published, I decided to approach someone well-known, to ask for advice on my novel. She was kind enough to reply, making flattering remarks about my website, and telling me that there was enormous potential interest in my novel.

She asked to see the first couple of chapters.

The next day, she slammed me.

Of course it hurt, especially as she had built me up. But I am British and she is British, and I understand that criticism is dished out much more violently in Britain than it is over here.

I managed to take a deep breath and write a polite note asking her for specific details. She responded by telling me two important things: 1) modernize the language, and 2) wear the historical research lightly.

I gave myself about three months before I did anything to the MSS. Then I fixed it up per her instructions, and submitted it to Napa Valley Writers Conference. At the end of April, I was invited to come.

You have to be invited to Napa, you can’t just pay and show up. So I was thrilled to be asked to come, especially because I’d been turned down three years before.

The moral of this story? Yes, the feedback hurt. Yes, I think she was too savage in the way she treated me. On the other hand, I learned some valuable things that enabled me to get into Napa. So if you run into an unpleasant experience, take a deep breath and try to hear that nugget of information that you really need to hear.

Next: What I learned at Napa.


–Cynthia Haggard writes novels.  She is currently seeking representation for ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED, the Richard III story told from the point of view of his mother. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2010. All rights reserved.

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