Washboard Wednesday


Okay, right now I’m in the middle of my umpteenth revision of (please imagine dramatic music and an echoing baritone voice): The Dreaded Query Letter. (Now imagine Homer Simpson screaming.

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So, what is it that makes the process so daunting? I could probably give a hundred reasons, most of which are tightly bound to my emotional state, so I’ll refrain. Suffice it to say that it is something I struggle with. And I know I’m not alone.

I totally admire someone who can distill their 70,000 to 100,000 word manuscript to 250-400 words. Especially if they can capture the main character, the plot, the stakes for the MC, and the consequences of their actions while maintaining flow and coherence. It’s an art to make all the pieces fit perfectly together such that the seams are invisible.

It’s a skill I’m still honing. Granted, when I first started writing letters (back in the days of yore), I waxed idiotic about subplots, secondary characters, and I had no idea how to really write a hook. Since then, I’ve learned how to be more “concise” and I think I’ve got some voice. But as far as seemless, eh, still working.

That’s why I thought of washboards. When my mom was a child, wash day (well, it was actually Mondays, not Wednesdays, but heck, I’m taking literary license!) was wash DAY. In a world before washing machines, all clothing, towels, bedding, even cloth diapers—ick!—had to be washed by hand using a washboard.

Bottom line: If I think writing and re-writing a query letter is bad, oh boy, “washboard hands” takes the cake.

All right, so what’s my point? Well, writing is a lot of fun, but it takes discipline. It takes WORK. It takes tolerance of repetition. And it takes tolerance of tearing apart a query letter sentence by sentence, word by word, only to put it back together again. And again. And again. And again…

And again.

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5 comments on “Washboard Wednesday

  1. philangelus says:

    My husband says that when his job (computer engineer) gets him down, he thinks about his great-grandfather, who nearly died in a coal-mining cave-in.

    But yeah, the query letter is an artificial form and it’s not one most writers take to naturally. I was able to do an awesome one for HAFT but never got a good one for the string quartet novel.

  2. ElanaJ says:

    Dude, send it to me again. What did other people say that freaked you out? You CAN nail this, don’t despair!!

    • lbdiamond says:

      Elana, OMG, I laughed (cuz I luv your voice) and cried (cuz I luv your support) at the same time when I saw this! Thank you so very much for the support! I will PM you.

  3. Dominique says:

    I like the washboard comparison.

    Writing is hard, but I’m pretty sure that in the end, this will all be worth it.

    Good luck with your query. 🙂

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