Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sadly, Insane Writers are not an Urban Myth

Once, I faced an interesting question on a written job application for interview: “Describe your communication style, written and verbal, and tell us about what you feel are your strength(s)”. Holy Hand Grenades is that EVER a loaded question to pose to a writer!!!! It's the equivalent of asking a super hero what there special powers are and seems to invite an element of lunacy and mischief. What fun I could have with the answer to that question:

I communicate in Courrier New, 12 point, double spaced, preferring the 75K length, contemporary, paranormal, star crossed lover story line (with or without secret babies). My strength? Why my ability to craft a sensual, entertaining love scene that is twenty pages in length, holds the reader’s attention AND advances the plot line. Did I mention, too, that I am a minimialist with dialogue tags, but I am so advanced with managing characters that you do not need a tag to know who is speaking, so distinct are their lines and actions...
After a few private laughs, I sat back and actually gave some serious thought to the question. It’s rather out there, isn’t it? The answer seemed very self evident to me: just as there is situational leadership, there is situational communication. You vary your method to suit the situation, and the message. Right? What other answer is there? None I could discern.

Funny, the things that make you sit back and really think. SO much we do on autopilot, we don’t really break it down (a.k.a. deconstruct) to analyze on a granular level. And we assume that how we do things is most often the norm, when anything could not be further from the collective truth that is reality. I bet how you respond to a question like that tells a good deal about you as a person.

Lately, some professional literary agency blogs have covered unprofessional responses to query rejections, or, ineffective vs. effective query. I can’t believe some of the nasty grams folks send back after getting a rejection from an agent. I want to meet some of these people and ask them what was going through the old gray matter at that moment in time when they thought a snotty letter or angry tirade was a good response to a professional “thanks, but no thanks” letter? It brings me back to the communication style question. I’d pay good money to see one of the angry rejected responders answer that question, because I bet at the very least it would be entertainint and at the worst, admissible in court when going for the restraining order: What is my communication style? I rather call it the ‘storm the castle with a pitchfork’ method. Does it produce results? Hmm, define results…

I can’t seem to get my head around it all. I always thought these folks were more urban myth than real. Sort of like the people who write a synopsis and end it with, not the ending mind you, but the slapping of the glove across both cheeks: ‘if you want to know the rest you’ll have to buy my book’. But no, this is not urban myth.

Writers. We are a curious lot.

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