So, when I was in high school, I was on the Speech & Debate team. Yeah, I know – but you all already knew I was a nerd. But hey! I lettered in speech. Got my green and gold O. Of course, I had no jacket to sew it onto, so I stuck it on my bulletin board with the Octagon Club awards and horse-show ribbons and did I mention I was kind of a nerd?
At any rate, I competed mainly in dramatic interpretation of drama and poetry, plus a memorable stint in duet acting. Overall I did okay. I qualified for the state competitions a few times, but never the national ones. One of the things I noticed, though, was that I was absolutely incapable of knowing when I’d done well in a round. Usually we’d compete in three rounds of 5-6 people, then, if we did well enough, advance to semi-finals and finals. Inevitably, when I thought I’d done badly, I’d won. And when I thought I was great, I’d actually bombed out.
I have no idea still, why this is.
But I’m noticing it with writing, too. Blog posts give pretty much instant feedback, compared to other kinds of writing. Often when I think I’ve posted something clever or interesting, I’ll get bupkis response. And frequently the posts that I fear are muddy, or when I’ve maybe ranted or whined excessively, end up being the most popular and passed around.
I’m seeing it with the stories, too, some. Petals and Thorns was loved in a way that Feeding the Vampire wasn’t as much. Early responses to Sapphire are different than I expected. Not bad – just different. I’ve heard other authors mention this, that sometimes the books they love languish and some of the less-heartfelt books end up selling spectacularly well.
Clearly there’s just no saying.
In speech, I used to try to predict given the reverse logic, but that was never a sure thing either. Sometimes I knew a bomb for what it was. Sometimes I nailed the round and felt it.
This is why I believe in editors.