My agent passed along a rejection note this morning, his only comment being “argh.” I read the email. By page 50 the editor admitted the novel was getting hard to read. That’s fine. You don’t have to like it. So why was it getting hard to read? Because it was getting “darker” and because he wanted a “sense of redemption to lead me along.” By page 50. Of a manuscript that almost runs 300 pages. Isn’t that kind of premature? Is that we’ve come to? The good times have to show up that early? (This besides the fact that he read the first 50 pages, asked my agent for the rest of the manuscript and then a month later told my agent he hadn’t liked the first 50 pages because of his need for premature redemption…..)
I can’t even think of kids books where the sense of redemption comes that early. I mean, in Green Eggs and Ham it comes on the second to last page. My friend Mike Spry suggested after 25-50 pages and redemption my manuscript should be “mostly wizards, vampires, or written by Margaret Atwood.” Throw in a talking tree and a height challenged almost-human and he’s probably right. And yes, it was from a Big 6 publishing house. So perhaps I shouldn’t have expected anything better. Or more. I did learn something though. From now on, if I don’t feel a sense of redemption before I leave the house every morning, I’m not going out. Because the rest of the day is not going to be worth it.