Friday, May 12, 2006

The First Critique -- Jay

First off, an apology. Awhile back I told you I’d finished the YA manuscript I’d been working on for three years and was handing it over to Robin and Eve for a critique in a few days. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was way too freaked out that they wouldn’t like it, that they’d say, “You spent three years on this?”

So I decided to self-edit one more time and I printed out all 246 pages and attacked it with a red pen. Why? Pure fear. So many people will be disappointed if this book sucks. First, I would disappoint the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (and who wants to disappoint an entire society?). BAKER’S DOZEN was awarded one of their Work-In-Progress grants. Second, I would disappoint SmartWriters.com. They awarded this manuscript the Grand Prize in their Write-It-Now competition. The judge for their YA category was Chris Crutcher…the first YA author I’d ever read! Was I willing to disappoint the author who turned me on to this genre in the first place? Third, I would disappoint my wife. Do you realize how many times I got out of laundry duty, or watering the plants, because I pretended to be in the middle of a plot-breakthrough?

So after that last edit, did I hand it over to Robin and Eve then? Absolutely not. I went through the entire manuscript once again. And then? Well, Eve was on the other side of the country, so last Sunday night I finally gave the manuscript to Robin. She read it in two-and-a-half days, which I took as a good sign, and I went over to her house to find out what she thought (I even brought Papa Murphy’s Pizza to butter her up). Immediately, I knew something was wrong. She kept delaying the critique. “Oh, my three-year-old needs a bath.” “Oh, the pizza’s ready.” “Oh, wanna see how we’re converting vegetable oil into fuel for the car?”

But she loved it! She even cried! I made Robin cry and I am so flippin’ happy! Why was she so afraid to tell me what she thought? Because six of the pages didn’t work for her. Six pages! “So what?!?!” I said. “97.56% of it did work for you.” So we brainstormed and figured out how to fix it and I’m just about done working through the changes. I should have the new and improved manuscript ready for Eve sometime this weekend.

Seriously. No, seriously, I promise. I will!

- Jay

7 comments:

Disco Mermaids said...

And 97.56 percent is an A. Not even an A minus. The reason why I bathed my child and made pizza and converted vegetable oil into fuel is because I so wanted your book to be an A+. You're just and A+ kind of guy and I KNOW you wouldn't settle for less. And after you work your magic on those six measly pages, it will be sheer perfection. Eve will read it in 45 minutes and not even have to pull out her pen.
But I must add to all our friends out there reading this blog (and y'all are awesome) Jay's book is utterly fantastic. Up there with my top five of all time. (And at this moment, he's saying "top five?" Couldn't you have said "top three!?") I've never read something that was thrilling and emotional and suspenseful and heartfelt all at the same time. So, yes, I cried. And I'll cry again when he gets that "call" saying Baker's Dozen is going to be published.
Love you, man!
Robin
And Eve, don't read this. I don't want you to be influenced before you read his book. I'm sure you're eyes are closed as we speak! That's so cute!

Debby G. said...

Re-congratulations! Best of luck!

Jen Robinson said...

Congratulations on your first positive review, Jay! I'm sure that it will be the first of many. I think that it takes a lot of bravery to give your book to anyone to review.

Have a great week!

Disco Mermaids said...

Jen, I've never been afraid to have a book critiqued...until this one. Everyone kept saying, "This book is going to be so good," and I'd say, "But you've only read the first ten pages! Don't put this kind of pressure on me!!!"

And just so y'all know, Robin's only gushing cuz she wants her name above Eve's on the acknowledgements page.

- Jay

Miss P AKA Her Royal Cliqueness said...

Can't wait til it gets the call. Robin's hyped it up and now we all want a peek, darnit.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your manuscript!

It's weird, isn't it? We want bizillons of people to buy our books, but freak out over the idea of one person reading it.

Lisa Yee
www.lisayee.com
www.livejournal.com/users/lisayee

Disco Mermaids said...

Thanks a lot, Lisa. I was hoping things were easier for published authors. But since you are one, and I think Millicent Min has sold 2.5 bizillion copies at last count, I guess I can cross that off my list of Reasons Why I Can't Wait to Sell a Book.

- Jay