I worked hard on that story for a long time, put a lot of juice and hope into it. So what? Everyone does. It’s the result that matters, not the effort. My protagonist was supposed to be not-so-likable, a user who never understood why he came off as such a jerk when all he wanted was to live an entrepreneurial and independent life. He had a big smile and a ready joke that endeared him to people till they got to know how self-absorbed and selfish he was. Despite my numerous revisions and attempts to soften the edges, he came off to virtually everyone who read the piece as cruelly sarcastic instead of humorous. When he got in trouble, reader response ranged from indifference to satisfaction. I did such a good job of creating a jerk that he alienated not only those on the page but off it as well.
So I’ve accepted the verdict and decided to deep-six the piece–at least for now. Maybe I’ll be able to re-imagine it later as something different. At the moment, Even I don’t feel like spending more time with the guy. It’s too bad I haven’t been able to reshape it yet, because I think there’s much worth saving. Haven’t been able to pull it off yet, though. A protagonist can draw hostility–Like Jack in Louise Erdrich’s Tales of Burning Love, for example–and still work. But disgust is too much, although William T. Vollmann seems to bring it off with Henry Tyler in The Royal Family. But then Vollmann gets away with stuff no one else can even try.
But it’s on to other projects, new efforts, new hopes, new successes and disappointments. I’m tempted to post the abortion and see what more of you think, but for the present I can’t stand any more feedback.