We’ve all been there. We tell someone we’re writing a book and they ask what it’s about. I should be able to give the thirty-second pitch but I really struggle with it.
It’s not that I don’t know what my stories are about, it’s that I don’t know how much to reveal and that makes me over-cautious. I want all the surprises to be revealed in the story but nobody will read the story unless I make it sound interesting. I don’t want to speak in generalities, I want to get to the guts. I know I need to give something but I just don’t know which bits to give. I don’t want it to be the literary equivalent of an advertising jingle. I’ve looked at book jacket covers to see how the pros manage it, but all I determined from that exercise is that I feel a fraud for having done it (which I know is nonsense). I have spent the last two hours writing absolutely nothing at all about my current project. I want a little blurb to put on my Camp NaNoWriMo profile. Why is that so hard?
There is another problem though. I have a terrible attitude to writing. Now, I’m not saying I’ve never been complimented on my writing because I have, but somehow the positive never seems to stick quite as well as the negative. I’m working my way through it but years of comments have hit my brain, loud and clear, and they’re still there, clamouring for attention and making assumptions about why I write.
Anyone can write. You can’t write. Writing’s a waste of time. You’ll never make a living. You’re writing about vampires? How very mainstream. You’re writing a coming of age story? How pedestrian. You’re not writing an intellectual opus about the physical manifestation of the soul in trauma? How boring! Oh, you’re (insert anything you like here – politics/gender/race/religion)? Remind me to never read anything you write!
Yep, I’ve heard them all and it’s wearing. It’s why I keep my writing to myself. I love to write and I don’t want somebody shitting on it just because they feel entitled to have a say. To me, it’s the difference between being randomly attacked with opinions and inviting opinion because either a) you’ve specifically asked for it, or b) you’ve put it in the public domain by publishing it (fair game).
I don’t want to tell them what my book’s about because it will be assumed that I am inviting opinion. I’m not. See what I mean? It’s not a very healthy attitude, is it?
So, leaving my bad attitude aside, I really do want to get this blurb thing nailed, preferably without revealing all the twists and revelations. How do you do it? Is it just me or do you struggle too?