Thursday, September 17, 2009

Query Quandary

The accountant in me wants things to balance every time. The real world has other ideas. Numbers are easy to quantify, add, and verify. There is nothing subjective to a number. Five is five everywhere in the universe.

Words are a different story. Words are subjective, at least taste in words are. I may love a book while you choke on the first page. I like and use certain words with greater frequency than other writers; other writers do likewise. My words are no better than your words, but certain words rankle me. I like the word rankle. If you don't, if it sounds like fingernails across a slate chalkboard, you will consider my writing poor.

Hence today's quandary. I finished a novel in early August and have struggled with the query letter I need to send to agents to get an offer of representation. The rough draft took less than three months to write, revisions half that, yet the query letter has gone through more rewrites and has taken longer. Am I too fussy? Not in my opinion. I want it right. Condensing the story to about two hundred fifty words is a bigger challenge than I first expected. I am getting closer. Soon, I will be proud of the query I produce.

My readers deserve a well written story for their money. I will do whatever is necessary to give it to them. The accountant in me will always feel a little unsatisfied. If only I could balance words like a Statement of Financial Condition.

Don't think I am complaining; I'm not. The thought process in writing is different from taxes and accounting. I find the dichotomy interesting. Excellence is the common ground in each field. Regardless of taste, the quality of writing should be apparent.

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