Monday, January 17, 2011
I can understand why editors don't want a query that says, "I read it to my kids and they loved it." Their reasoning, however, is a little misled. I get that they don't want to hear the same thing from every Tom, Dick, and Harry who feels the need to send in a manuscript. I acknowledge that there's no way of confirming that the writer has really gotten the thumbs up from their kids. Also, just because their kids like it doesn't mean that children everywhere will go for it. The reasoning I don't understand is this: "Of course your kids will tell you they like it. What else are they going to do? Tell you it stinks?" Obviously this person doesn't have children. My kids are my greatest critics. I'm not saying I don't appreciate the people who encourage me and say that they like my writing. There are certainly times I feel like giving up writing altogether and it helps to know that people actually like it. When I'm ready to hear someone tell me they hate it, though, I ask my kids. I wrote a pirate story a little while back and gave it to my nine-year-old. He couldn't read or understand all the piratey language. He was stumbling on the words so badly that he dropped it on the table and said, "Whatever," then ran off to play with his Legos. A few weeks later, I revised and printed off "The Paper Airplane King," which has been sitting in my computer for about three years. I read it out loud at the table and both of my kids asked me to read it again. My oldest actually wanted to read it himself. Guess which manuscript I sent in? I've never found a shortage of honesty, truth, and downright harshness in children. I get a lot of opinions and value all of them, but when I'm floundering, trying to get a strong, even insensitive critique, kids are a great way to go.