January 23, 2010

This isn't a story

I accidentally came across this little bit in my inbox. From two years ago, when I was looking for an agent. A response to "Buying Lenin," which I'd included in my query. I'm posting it here, because someone somewhere might read it and feel better about their work. The truth is that sometimes, inevitably, you come across people whose response will hurt you. But it's important to know that (to paraphrase Carver) we ought to feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we're talking about when we talk about writing...

Dear Miroslav,

Many thanks for your query. Your personal background, a Bulgarian student in Univ. of Arkansas's MFA program, is appealing for a short story writer. But I'm sorry to say I don't think the story you sent will attract American readers--that the writer is unable to reconcile with his communist grandfather who hates capitalists doesn't have high personal stakes for the protagonist. He won't lose anything if he loses his grandfather, and in the end the grandfather says he loves him anyway. It isn't a story.

I rarely follow up on this blog (because if I have something to say I try to say it in a story), but in my next post I'll tell you about how "Buying Lenin" was translated into Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tamil and very soon - French :-)

Have faith in your stories, my friends, and keep writing...

1 comment:

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