As a sentimental person, I keep things. Cards, letters, little souvenirs of my childhood. If anyone opened one of the many boxes I have in storage, they might find a card my Grandma Baugher gave me on my ninth birthday with a poem she wrote inside. Or, they might find the red, jingle-bell collar that belonged to my long gone, beloved cat, Butch. If they opened the many folded pieces of notebook paper, they would probably see what I came across recently--a mound of angst-filled, death-obsessed poems from my teenage years. *Freshly compiled into a word doc labeled as Shitty Poetry from the '90s*
I couldn't help but giggle as I read them, reliving the melodrama of my youth. I was never a depressed teen, though if one read Dust--a poem focused on death and afterlife in a dark, almost joyfully masochistic, way--they'd be hard-pressed not to think of a girl wearing all black, hiding out in her closet with a box of matches, a belt noose, and a collection of rusty razor blades.
In truth, I had been nothing more than a kid with an identity crisis, who was fascinated and inspired by eastern religions, Nirvana lyrics, and the writings of Poe. My poetry reflected others more than it did myself, had been a representation of that which intrigued me as opposed to a portrayal of a relatively happy young girl--because who the hell wants to read cheerful shit, right?
I take a vastly different approach to the craft of writing these days. For one, I write novels, not poetry. I have also heeded the advice of countless successful authors before me--to be an honest writer. I write what my characters would do, not what I think the reader wants them to do. That's not to say I don't write with a target audience in mind, after all, I do wish to be published...someday. But I now know my readers want to be taken on a journey, not be the ones navigating it.
So when Agent Lady informed me another editor rejected my work but sent comments like these...
It has heart that a lot of novels today don't have; it's pure, so to speak. You can really see the joy and pain of the characters in the triumphs and dilemmas that they face. It seems honest. And I think the writing is very good.
...I know I'm on the right track. Maybe not with my first book, (the one this editor rejected) but perhaps with the next, which is going to be queried, I predict, by summer's end!