Friday, March 21, 2008

Falling in Love

Maven Jacqueline BarbourI got one of those rejections today that makes you want to scream. Oh, not because it was mean or got my name wrong or was a form letter. No, it made me want to scream because it was nice and complimentary, but ultimately amounted to an "I liked it, but I didn't love it" with no real explanation of why.

But that's just the thing, isn't it? Love is irrational and, when you get right down to it, impossible to truly justify. Oh, you can always cite reasons. But in the end, it comes down to chemistry, to that indefinable quality that one person (or book or movie or work of art) has and another doesn't.

For example, I love House. The show and the character. Passionately. He's sarcastic, self-centered, and manipulative, not to mention a drug addict, yet there's a wit and a vulnerability there that I just can't resist. I've introduced a number of my friends to the show since I discovered it a little over a year ago, and you know what? They don't all love it! Are they mad? Yes. But they're not wrong.

On the flip side of the coin, I have friends who adore the Vincent D'Onofrio character on Law and Order: Criminal Intent. I've watched the show fairly often (it's in reruns almost every night, so there are many times it's the only thing on that I'm remotely interested in watching him), yet I've never understood my friends' fascination with him. I don't dislike the character, but I feel no particular affinity for him, either. Am I mad? Possibly. But I'm not wrong.

For those of us who write romance, I think there's a fascinating duality here. We write about a process that is ultimately inexplicable. Through our writing, we try to engender in our readers the emotions they would have if they were falling in love. At the same time, we're hoping they'll also fall in love with our writing, our stories, our characters--especially if those readers happen to be agents or editors who can help us get published.

But if the magic doesn't happen--if they like our story, but don't love it--we perhaps shouldn't expect a justification for that, nor fall into despair in fear that no one will ever love it. Just remember, "I say Hugh Laurie, and you say Vincent D'Onofrio..." (Okay, so it doesn't fit the meter. You get the idea!)

YOUR TURN: Ever been the victim of a "I like it, but I don't love it" rejection? How did you cope with it? What things do you love that other people don't? And vice versa. Do tell!

10 comments:

Kelly Krysten said...

I like the show Bones and most of my friends don't. I love eating pickles with ice cream and most of the world agrees that that's disgusting. Some people like chocolate, some vanilla. I'm sure someone is going to love your book soon. I remember loving the scene from it I read on your blog ages ago. Good luck!

Jennifer Linforth said...

I just got one of those rejections a few months ago. I love my "good rejections" but I still give them to the baby to shred.

No secret that I can't live without strawberry quik... everyone thinks I am weird.

Jackie Barbosa said...

Kelly, I like Bones, too, but my husband can't stand it. Which means I don't get to watch it very often.

And thanks for saying you loved something I wrote. Those are the best words a writer can ever hear.

Jennifer, I haven't decided whether to file this rejection letter or shred it. I know some people swear by keeping all your rejections because they're a reminder that you're a writer. I'm not sure sure I need to do that to remember :). And I have to agree--Strawberry Quik is a little odd, though I suspect my sons would join you...

lacey kaye said...

Oh, Jackie, that sucks. I've certainly had my share of those! Not to mention how much I love House and strawberry Quik. I was going to add something else but I've totally blanked. Argh.

Home Theater said...

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beverley said...

I just got one of those letters too and she was soooo nice and complimentary. She said I'm sure you'll have this snapped up! I was like what, so why didn't you like it? If it's perfect for the marketplace and it's so great why don't you like it? But then I just shrugged and said, it's just not her cup of tea. She doesn't like it ENOUGH.

But I was flattered by all the nice things she did say. She didn't have to. I could have just gotten a form rejection so I was happy she was so encouraging.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Well, neither my husband nor I like HOUSE. We tried, since so many people whose opinions we respected love it, but it didn't appeal to us at all.

Similar experience recently listening to people on a writing loop trash DEXTER. The way they were trashing it sounded so fascinating that I rented the discs of the firs season and we DEVOURED them. SO. GOOD.

There are always a few books out there that are wildly popular that I don't get at all. You can never account for taste. And, of course, I feel the smug justification of the early adopter when the public at large falls for something I've been into for ages (like Tairen Soul).

Everyone gets the "I don't love it" rejections, though. They are super frustrating though!

Jackie Barbosa said...

Thanks for the commiseration, Lacey. Honestly, I know there are lot of these kinds of rejections in every writer's life. And they're certainly nicer than the form letter variety.

Bev, I agree to being pretty floored by a rejection that says, basically, "this is totally saleable but I don't want to earn the commission." LOL.

Diana, I guess you're on of those mad-but-not-wrong people. But I forgive you for not liking House as long as you forgive me for not having a clue what Tairen Soul is. Deal?

Bill Clark said...

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting.

Umm...how does one follow up after such a comment? ;-)

Sorry about the rejection, and agree that love is irrational. For example, I lurve Maven Erica's TATTF (which is how I still think of it - does anyone else think the change of title has, er, jinxed it?), but the months come and go and still no celebratory rockets rise from ground zero in Tampa. What the h*ll is wrong with the publishing world?!

*Bill scratches his head at the irrationality of life and love*

Karen Lingefelt said...

Hugs, Jackie. I've gotten a lot of those letters, where they liked this, enjoyed that, and even thought it could sell--then they had to throw in the word BUT!

It's like being brought to the brink of orgasm, and in that sense it can be more frustrating than a form letter.

I keep all my rejections because I'm part pack rat, part masochist.

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