Monday, October 11, 2010

I Have the Whine. Who Has the Cheese?

Am I the only writer in the world who just wants to write books?
When I was attending conferences twenty years ago, I was told to "write, write, write." Enter contests. Submit to magazines (they didn't have e-zines back then) and newspapers. Get a few short stories out there.
I didn't want to do it then, and I don't want to do it now.
I don't write short stories. I don't even like to read them. 

I don't like anthologies. I have a couple on my bookshelf from before I understood what an anthology was. They are Elfquest, Blood of Ten Chiefs and A Book of Vampires. Oh, and I have one book of dragon short stories, but I stole that from Elder Brother when I was about 10, and it continues to annoy me that I cannot read those books in full.

And I don't read newspapers. And I don't read magazines, other than gardening magazines, and I mostly look at the pictures in those.

I have a rule. If I don't do it, I don't do it. I don't drink coffee; I don't make coffee. I don't drink alcohol; I don't buy alcohol. I don't eat octopus; I don't kill octopus.

See? My rule, lived out in my life.

Yet here I am, once again, being told I have to "write, write, write" to build a writing resume so a publisher will take me seriously. Yep. I've gotten to chapter five of A Writer's Survival Guide to Getting Published.

Heavy sigh.

I can't be the only writer who feels this way. My real question is has any other writer who feels this way managed to publish a book?

TT: Maybe it's time to start reading some author biographies. Or caring about the writer's market.

My head understands the rationale. It's about name recognition. It's about building trust with an audience and a potential employer. It's about proving I can finish something and handle criticism without a hissy fit. I get it.

On the other hand, does a 1000 word short story prove I can deliver the goods for 100,000 words? Or 166,000, like Star of Justice?

It doesn't, but maybe it isn't supposed to. Maybe it's more about self-promotion and devotion to the craft. After all, a publisher is taking a risk with me, too. If I end up being a jerk/dead-beat/loser, they lose more than I do because their investment is bigger.

I wish I hadn't read Seth Godin's Tribes last year. It is very easy now to look at the standard way to publication as a nuisance. Sort of like entering a marriage with a pre-nup. Why give it my all when I think I have another option lurking around the corner?

I remain determined to think of this process as a game. The moment I take it too seriously, I back away. Making it a game engages my competitive streak and keeps my focus in the right place.

So there's my whine for the day. Somebody give me a cracker.

4 comments:

  1. sounds like a good idea...keeping it a game! I like that.

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  2. It's the only way for me, Grace. The only way.

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  3. I used to stress over not writing short stories and articles as well. I think if you want to make your living at writing starting sooner rather than later, that's the way to go. I gave up on writing stories/articles years ago, and I'm happier for it. I also prayed and prayed about it, and I never felt led to write articles. In fact, the times I sought publication for my articles, I kept running into closed doors.

    It's not impossible to get published if you only write books. Publishers are still looking for new writers. As long as we follow our passion and God's path, how can we fail?

    As long as we stay vigilant and -- that dreaded word -- patient.

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  4. Patience I got. The irony here is the more I complain about it, the more likely I am to actually do it. If I absolutely refused to consider the possibility, I wouldn't have said anything. Welcome to my hell (I wish I had a crazy face icon to insert here).

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