I missed the sweet spot again.
Racquet sports and baseball, that sweet spot is that place space and physics define as the optimum meeting with the ball when you hit it. You know the sweet spot when its reached. The ball is your fool and goes to where you want.
Stories and novels have sweet spots. When you read something and the writer hit the sweet spot, you set the book down and whisper, wow. You set it down because the tension is so great, you're afraid of what will happen next. You stop reading and turn on the lights because their reality is so real, something, someone, some killer, some evil, might come through that wall or window, down the hall. You grab a tissue and cry, you laugh and cry together, you walk away on a surge of triumph and emotion.
Didn't hit the sweet spot in "Next Gen". Rejected, alas. Damn. Bummer. Damn. What really bites my nads is I knew I missed it. The Reader reconized, something is amiss with this story. The Writer asked, what do you mean? TELL ME WHAT IT IS.
I don't know, the Reader answered. Something about it just misses. It's written well. There's some tension and good pacing and description but...I don't know. It misses.
The Writer sighed. Well, if you can't tell me what's wrong, I can't fix it. Maybe you're too close to it. I mean, how many times have you read it?
A lot, the Reader admitted. Its the forest and tree thing, isn't it. perspective and bearing get maligned.
But the Reader knew the problem was with the end, it became too convoluted and missed, a matter of trying to fit too much into the remaining space and rushing and squeezing and contriving. The Reader didn't want to tell the Writer that. He knew how hard the Writer had worked, polishing, revising, adding, changing. Maybe he was wrong but he was pretty sure he wasn't.
So the Reader said, You know, maybe that's it, I'm just too close to it. Go ahead and submit it. If they reject it, I'll read it again and maybe we can see what's wrong.
The Writer wanted to be done with it. Besides overthinking things, he's patient as a hungry infant. Okay, that sounds good. I'll pull the trigger and send it in.
When you miss the sweet spot in racquetball and baseball, the ball mocks you with its own impulses. You exchange a few curses with it and yourself and go on. Emotion only comes out when the stakes are high, when it's a single stroke but the culmination of a game, a series, a season, a year. Time runs out.
In writing it's the same culmination but the game isn't over. There's no third strike, no end of game, no standing forlornly to one side being lashed by 'if only.' The Writer swears deeply, tells the Reader, I'm going to try again, if I can figure out what's wrong.
I think that's what you should do, the Reader answers. That's what you should do, rewrite it and try again. I think I have some ideas, if you want my help.
Sure. The Writer smiles. He feels better. Okay. Thanks.
The game begins again, like it never was before.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com