Not literally. 'In the Mines' is just a phrase I like to use for time when I'm working at something I don't really like but will help me get where I want to go.
This weekend I've been working on my query letter. I spent a large portion of time yesterday working on the meat of the letter - the hook, the blurb, etc. I wrote and I deleted and I wrote and I deleted all morning until I thought I had something. I sent that something off to my CP. She did what a good CP does; she told me it was flat. Hear that big sucking sound? That was my query.
Anyway, I walked away from the thing after that. She was so right, but I couldn't see exactly where the problem was, which meant I couldn't see how to fix it. After a couple hours, the hook came up and hit me in the back of the head like a grandmother after hearing a naughty word. Ka-Thwap! I typed it into the letter, sent the line off to my CP, and from the reaction, I nailed it. Still couldn't fix the blurb though. By comparison to my new hook, my blurb sounded even worse.
I flopped on the couch with a book (which I may talk about tomorrow). I read a little, watched a little TV, and generally chilled out. Late last night, the grandmother attacked me again. Ka-Thwap! I re-read my query, hit enter enough times to shoot the crap to the bottom of the page (where I couldn't see it) and started from scratch. Voila! I really like what I ended up with last night.
Anyway, this whole thing brings to mind something I read on the BookEnds blog recently. And somewhere - I don't remember if it was in the post or the comments and I don't feel like looking right now - someone made a comment like 'if you can write a book, you should be able to write a query' or something like that. In a way, this is true. Writers write. Anyone who can write a book should be able to write anything else. But if you follow this line of thinking, fiction writers should be able to write non-fiction and vice versa. A novelist could also be an essayist. A poet could also be a humorist. After all, it's just writing. Right?
Unfortunately, each type of writing is a totally different animal from the others. Queries included. Each type of writing requires the mastery of a skill to be really good. Yep, queries too. Most of us book writers (at least the unpubbed ones) haven't mastered the skill (or there wouldn't be a bazillion posts on how to do it, and people wouldn't still be asking everyone they know how to do it right). I'm no exception. I keep learning and trying and gaining experience with every letter I write, but it sure as hell ain't like writing a book. I know how those work. Queries for me are like trying to write haiku. I know the mechanics of it, but I haven't mastered the skill yet. In other words, I can write haiku, but it sucks bigtime.
You turn: What are your thoughts on the issue?
BTW, the offer is still open . I'll be looking for a few good readers shortly, if anyone wants to beta read RTL. I won't provide details about RTL on the blog, so if you're interested, drop me an e-mail or leave a comment so I can e-mail you.
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