Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The "It" Factor

I was waiting in line at Starbucks this morning, observing the people as I often do, and listening to the music. I don’t know who the artist was that was playing but the music was soulful and filled with emotion. I was struck by how hard the song was to sing but how easy the singer made it sound. The song made me break out in goose bumps, and I felt the instant tug at my emotional core. It’s a feeling I get when I feel the artist in the work, when I feel a connection to it, when the work is good, really good. It’s hard to describe it, but when I get it, I know this is talent.

I get the same feeling for books, paintings…anything artistic. And it made me wonder, this morning, if this is the same feeling an agent needs to feel about a writer’s work before they agree to represent her. It’s the feeling I strive for in my writing, although it’s hard to be objective. The investment it takes to write a novel is more than can ever be described. The creation of a novel is wrought with self-doubt, emotional commitment, creative highs & lows, and time. And in the end, there’s a life within the pages, but does it have the “it” factor? And who does it have the “it” factor for, because not everyone will be struck by the work in the same way.

So the next part of the journey is discovering:
  • If the work has “it” - Solicit feedback from readers, other writers, critique groups, etc. I use my husband as my first gauge of “it”, but is it enough? Not everyone will view the work the same, and how do you filter the true feedback from the candy-coated ones.
  • Does the work need more revision?
  • Finding the right fit in a literary agent, finding an agent that feels “it” in the novel and wants the world to feel the experience. Ensuring this agent backs the support with the hard work and perseverance required to sell this work to a publisher.
So I continue to revise my work in an effort to create the best novel I can, one that has “it” in the end, and I’m anxious to get to the point of discovering the next part of the journey.



T. Anne said...

I think about "it" al the time. I do believe you have to be born with "it" but, the craft can always be learned and molded through experience.

Nicole Ducleroir said...

So true, Michelle, that "it" feels different for different readers. I began reading The Almost Moon last night. I devoured Alice Sebold's first novel, The Lovely Bones in two days. I've been warned by some Amazon reader critiques that her second novel doesn't live up to her first. Others, though they hold the minority opinion, thought it was brilliant. It just goes to show that we must write what stirs our artistic souls -- what has "it" for us -- and believe our audience will embrace it in the same way.

Best of luck with your project. If you ever want feedback on an excerpt or two, don't hesitate to ask!

Michelle said...

Thanks Nicole for the offer - I may just take you up on that once I've got it where it needs to be.

Michelle said...

T.Anne - You bring up another good point - being born with the gift as opposed to cultivating the gift. I think everyone can write but not everyone can be a great writer. I'm sure many would differ on that point, writing programs in particular, but if it weren't true then every novel would be great and a best seller.