besides working as a barista, i was also an assistant to a fashion photographer.
it was an extremely fun, high-pressure, and intense learning environment. i met some wonderful mentors, artists, and just plain great people at this job, but i also met my fair share of kooks.
there was one woman, a former model from brazil, who was very pleasant, until she found out i was a writer and became very clingy.
mi's mistake #1 - upon our first meeting i offered to read her manuscript and tell her what i thought.
mi's mistake #2 - instead of corresponding through email, i gave her my phone number. which she used. often.
mi's mistake #3 - within first three pages i could tell the manuscript was a train wreck, but instead of telling her it was not for me, i forced myself to read all 768 pages.
i think we've heard the old adage so many times: write what you know, but sometimes what you know isn't worth putting to paper, feel me?
this ex-model's manuscript was about the fashion industry.
ok, at first glance that's fine, right?
the book started out with a former model receiving a phone call from her ex-agent, in fact - the opening paragraphs weren't that bad. but this ex-model character (the first character the reader is introduced to) did not reappear until after page 300.
her ex-agent was only mentioned a couple times later in the book, and the subject of their phone conversation was never revisited.
the book was supposed to be about a high-powered fashion family and their exploits. apparently the reader was supposed to glean from the descriptions that the writer was referencing all the great designers, like lagerfeld, galliano, and donetella versace.
well, all that flew over my head, but maybe someone else could have sifted through the endless pages and description to come to that conclusion.
the most memorable character in her novel was one of the adult children in the high powered fashion family.
i take that back - he wasn't that memorable but his parrots were.
the author took great pains to tell the reader about this character's twelve parrots. she spent over a page on each parrot, giving physical descriptions and personality traits, as well as the best events and designer outfits suited for each parrot.
BUT this wasn't even the worst part of the novel.
the worst part, in my opinion, was that her manuscript was full of misspelled words, incorrect subject/verb agreements, and had no contractions. at all.
everything was "i am, can not, there is". let me tell you, 700+ pages of no contractions will make your brain hurt.
so, when it came to giving her my opinion i tried to be honest.
i told her that it needed to be edited. heavily.
it needed a fluent english speaker to proof read it (she asked if i could edit/proofread. i think you can deduce my answer).
it needed to have a different opening because it was very misleading to the reader.
she listened to me, told me that i just didn't "get" her book because i didn't know much about the fashion industry, and that she really needed some money so she was just going to self-publish it as is so she could sell copies to her friends.
it was at that point i wished her good luck and left our coffee meeting.
and decided i'd never again offer to read the manuscript of someone i'd just met.