Friday, June 11, 2010

Didn't Like the Book

Disagreements have always been a discomfort area for me. Speaking up in class and prefacing my speech with, "Actually, I disagree with so-and-so," was never a moment of joy. I did it for the participation grade.

My first assignment for my summer/fall internship was to read a manuscript which is set to go to the printer so that I can promote it. The owner of the publishing house I'm working for (I'll call her Lady and the house LittleHouse) loved this book and thought it was well-written. I finished the book still waiting for it to get good. It was everything I don't admire about literature. It went nowhere in terms of plot, it was corny and at times too emotional. It had spelling, grammatical and translation issues. It failed to grab my interest at any point. The worst part, I suppose, was that it was told from the point-of-view of an anthropomorphized animal who was unable to communicate with humans. So the entire novel was a long stream-of-consciousness narrative from an animal and it was about the typical life of this animal.

Lady has asked for my opinion on the novel. Of course. While I'd love to sing its praises and have something in common with Lady, from whom I believe I can learn, something is screaming at me, "Don't lie!"

And so I suppose I'll have to tell the truth--that the novel wasn't what I would typically pick up for enjoyment, but that it was cute and original. And "C'est la vie" was spelled incorrectly. How ironic.

Lesson #1 of LittleHouse Internship: How to respectfully disagree.

9 comments:

  1. That is so hard! But it will be so much better to just let her know now, then let it fester while pretending you love it...

    I'm not an animal book person, (I know Watership Down is a 'classic') but I just can't get into them. Good Luck!

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  2. Hey, Lauren, I respect your decision to tell the truth, even if the truth might hurt Lady a little.

    I just started reading your blog, since I'm a new follower, and I'm gladly enjoying your courage and writing.

    So, write on!

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  3. I worked as a copy editor for a small publisher for a while. I had no problem going back to the EIC and telling her, "I don't think this book is ready or marketable." Hey, they can listen or not and they can take my opinion or not. It is what it is.

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  4. it's never what you say but how you say it... learn from your other surroundings... that's exactly what my job is about...

    Justin

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  5. This is an important lesson in every profession, unless the chosen career is as a toady.

    I've only recently found your blog, and totally loving it. :)

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  6. I have been visiting various blogs for my dissertation research. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with valuable information... Regards

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  7. I want to know how it went! What did she say in response?

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  8. Rachel, to answer your question, she wasn't ecstatic. But, on the plus side, she respected my opinion and treated it as what it was: one person's singular opinion. She did not, as I had feared, give me the cold shoulder or become angry or condescending. I think the most discomfort (and it wasn't too uncomfortable) came from her quick, clipped response. The whole conversation was over before it really began and I think we both preferred it that way!

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  9. Thanks for showing a glimmer of hope for me. I know nearly every agency rejection letter says something about how publishing is a subjective business and a no from one agent does not mean the manuscript is bad, but it's hard sometimes to see the truth in that.

    The fact that you have such a fundamental disagreement with your boss shows me that rejection is subjective. More subjective than I would have thought anyhow.

    Not that I was ready to quit, (I ripped the 'Q' section out of my dictionary so I wouldn't be tempted, as a letter I don't really miss it) but it's good to get some encouragement.

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