For those who have been with me during the misery of the blurbage process, I found this article, “Six Writers Tell All About Covers and Blurbs” to be really comforting. I paricularly like Mark Jude Poirier‘s take on it:
Asking for blurbs is humiliating and horrible. If your editor and or publicist can do it for you, you’re lucky. If left on your own, ask writer friends or professors. Because I know how awkward it is to ask for blurbs, this is what I usually say when I’m asked to blurb someone’s book: “I’d be happy to blurb your book, but are you sure you don’t want to ask someone with a fan base that isn’t limited to his mother’s book club?” If you ask someone for a blurb, and they write you a decent one, use it! I once was asked to write a blurb for a friend so I diligently reread his novel—I had read earlier drafts. He didn’t use my blurb, which was a good blurb, damn it! I would have understood if my blurb had been knocked off the jacket by blurbs from Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie and Annie Proulx, but no; my blurb was knocked off by blurbs from writers just as obscure as I am. Feelings check: hurt.
And with that thought in mind, I am officially going to not mention anything else about my novel until a) my agent sells it or b) my agent tells me it’s not going to sell. She has not yet sent my novel out on submission, but the entire thing is simply too stressful to think about, so I’m pushing it out of my mind and focusing on my next novel.
Which, by the way, is also extremely stressful. I find that once I have a rhythm going, I love to write. But these first steps, when I’m figuring out my character, trying to plot out the action, I’m a bundle of nerves. I read too much, trying to do research, most of which is never used. I obsess too much, toying with the characters in my mind while I’m running in the mornings. I jot too much, and I end up with random pieces of paper with strange lines of dialogue I’ve overheard or an idea I thought of. At some point, it all comes together, but it hasn’t yet for me. I have two main characters in my next novel. One I have a very clear idea of who she is. The other is still a foggy notion for me. I know some basic facts, but I don’t know her, and until I know her, I can’t be sure what she’s going to do. As my agent so wisely told me, the plot doesn’t drive the character; the character must drive the plot. In other words, what your character does must make sense, must move the plot forward. You can’t simply change your character to make sense of a plot.
Now if only my character would come out of hiding. I can just barely glimpse her….