Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's All About Words

In response to request for the cartoon included, this is a reprint of my blog from last July. 
I've got all these words in my head that are just screaming to get out. Some are descriptive, emotional, sensual, horrifying, loving. I know you understand what I mean. For us, my dear writer, they are the heart and soul of our work.
There are the types of words we scrutinize: adjectives and adverbs. We search them out and agonize over having too many or too few. We edit, re-write and edit some more. We don’t stop there. We hunt out clichés and overused phrases ripping them out of the pages. And all the while we struggle for originality and that magic that hooks the reader and draws them into our stories. We work until our manuscripts shine with a high polish.
The readers are the witness, the hero or heroine, or whomever they prefer to identify with. It’s the juxtaposition of our words that create the pacing, paints the pictures, strikes the chord, arouses emotions and, for us romance writers, brings the story to a happy ending.
Some words we are eager to hear: the call, published, multi-published, reprint, best seller, finalist, award winning. But I’m getting ahead of myself. More often the words are strung a bit differently: I think the concept of your novel has a lot of potential …, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read your manuscript …, Thank you very much for your manuscript which I have read with interest …, I think you have a wonderful voice … The ellipse is followed by the same word but. Different words but all with the same meaning, rejected, although I really prefer passed. It is just so much more humane. 
I have worked hard on my manuscript. I am well past my first draft. I have self reviewed and edited, my critique partner has reviewed and commented, at chapter meetings I have brought my five to ten pages for discussion. The version number on my document is in double digits. I know I have the words just right. I just need an editor/agent to love them as much as I do.

Sure I can. I can love them anyway you want them!
Special thanks to David Coverly for permission to reprint his cartoon.
Dave Coverly admits there is no overriding theme, no tidy little philosophy that precisely describes what Speed Bump, his syndicated comic, is about. "Basically," he says, "if life were a movie, these would be the outtakes." 
These "outtakes" now appear in over 400 newspapers and websites, including the Washington Post, Toronto Globe & Mail, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune, Indianapolis Star, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cincinnati Enquirer, New Orleans Times-Picayune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Vancouver Sun, Baltimore Sun, and Arizona Republic as well as the published “Speed Bump” books.
In addition to his syndicated work, Coverly's cartoons have been published in The New Yorker, and his cartoons are now regularly featured in Parade Magazine, the most widely read magazine in the world with a circulation of 73 million.
Coverly works out of an attic studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is married to Chris, and they have two daughters, Alayna and Simone.


  1. Lovely post. I caught myself nodding as I read it, thinking oh yes, girlfriend, I am soooooo with you on this. Cute cartoon, too. Keep at it, Ruth, sucess is just around the corner. Although most of the times, we feel as though it's just around the corner of hell's half-acre. Ooops, was that a cliche? Much success to you.

  2. @Vonnie Davis

    Thanks so much for your comment. I truly love the cartoon. When I found it I really laughed out loud.

  3. I got one of those 'passed' letters. i have to say, it was lot better than getting a form letter. So now, it's back to the drawing board. Love the cartoon!

  4. @shawn

    I'm glad you liked the cartoon. I certainly know how you feel. I hope you get your call soon.

  5. Yep. Feel that one. Love the cartoon, Ruth. Sometimes we are forced into familiarity of unpleasantness by our love of something.

  6. @Calisa Lewis

    I know you love to write, Calisa. I guess we just have to take it as another challenge. It will make success that much sweeter.

  7. Love that cartoon. Thank you for the laugh, and hang in there, THE CALL is out there for you!

  8. @Lauri

    I'm glad you had a good laugh.

  9. Great article! You express sentiments that are universal. I decided to read your posts. Interesting and informative, but "Shhhh" at least for me is the best. It's what romance writing is all about.

  10. @jgavinallan

    I so glad you like the posts. Shhhh Is special to me. It's how I started. *sigh* I really do love romance.

  11. Thanks for re-posting and your cartoon. At least it appears she got "in" to see the editor. I agree with you on "passed." So much kinder. The other visual is of the story you pour your heart and soul into having a huge "reject" stamp across the face. Glad that didn't happen in your case. Also like SHHH...for personal reasons. Great blog.

  12. Rejection letters are a letdown, but what about when you don't anything back at all? A letter lets you know they at least looked at your work. Is it me, or is the world just getting ruder?

  13. A cartoon we can identify with. It's nice to know that we can and will laugh again after rejection. Ooops, I mean get passed. It's part of the business and thankfully we've got our writer support groups that have prepared us for the numerous passes we would get. And even once you get "the call" and get published, it doesn't mean you won't get passed again on future stories. Gotta love the challenge.

  14. @Christina Wolfer

    I know, Christina. A writer's life is not easy. Whether we label it reject or pass it still means not acceptable and no matter how sensitive and kind the editor or agent is, it still is a knife wound.

    But you are correct. That's why our writing groups are even more important. I truly love the writers in the groups to which I belong. We are diverse, understand and sympathize with each others pain, and celebrate each others victories. They are awesome.

  15. @J.Coleman

    Hi Joelene,
    It certainly is a daunting process after the story is done. Sometimes I wish someone else could handle it all and just let me write. Yes, probably an agent but with ebooks, I wonder about the validity of an agent.

    Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed Shhh. It's what started it all for me.

  16. @Sandy

    It does seem rude. At a recent editor/agent panel they all said they get about 100 queries a day. It seems more and more that I'm seeing 'no response equals no' which, heavy sigh, is not rewarding.

  17. Great post, Ruth! And so in line with the cartoon, which I love. Nice background about the cartoonist, too. I've come to the conclusion that without some rejections there would be no "call", so they're all just a necessary (evil) part of the process, LOL.

  18. @Anonymous

    Hi Marlo - I'm glad you liked it. I love the cartoon. I contacted Dave to check with him about reprinting and we had a great chat. He knows all about rejects from a totally different angle. We agreed that in any media, a reject still hurts.

    And your right, it makes the "call" all that more enjoyable. You know your work is worthy.

    Thanks for stopping by