Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Truth May Hurt

I have always loved Jack's line from A FEW GOOD MEN! "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" It is amazing how often, when I bring up this point, writers will always scream to me, "but we love when people tell us the truth." That is, until the truth smacks them in the face.

Writing is a tough business to be in. Not simply because of the number of writers out there competing for the small number of places on the book shelves, but because of what goes into the stories. Think about it. Writers sit for hours at their computers, pouring their hearts and souls into those words. The tireless hours editing. The waiting for a response just to get:

Thank you so much for giving us a chance to read your story, but it isn't strong enough...

Guess what? Sometimes the writing isn't strong enough. Sometimes the editors and agents are really looking for that extra special something. And yes, sometimes, your writing might not be that good.

I often think of writing like cooking. You may be a really good cook, but it doesn't mean that every time you step into the kitchen, you will make that amazing meal. The meat may be dry, the seasoning too strong, and yes, it could be burnt. But, does that mean, after a single rotten meal, you walk out of the kitchen never to cook again? I think not! You learn from the mistakes. You grow from it. You realize that 2 Tablespoons of saffron was too much and back it off to 1 teaspoon. You consider covering the meat instead of cooking it in an open pan. And yes, when it comes to writing, you need to learn.

Even though this is a subjective business, we do need to work with the responses we have been given. Too often, I hear writers rant and rave about how stupid the editor or agent was and they just didn't get it. You may be right, they might not have gotten it, but that is not their fault and it doesn't make you right. Writing is communications which is "the getting and the giving of informaton". If you give us information that is unclear, we can't get it.

Writing is about growth. If you want to be a professional writer, it is crucial that you learn as you go. If at any point, you say, I know it all, just call your editor or agent and say you quit. You can go no further if you are unwilling to grow.



  1. Wow. Another great post. Another time when someone has actually said something honest about the business. Your writers are so fortunate. I hope they appreciate what they have in you. And good luck with those little swimmers. May they persevere and prevail, at least part of the time.

  2. You learn to have a thick skin, I think, when you are a writer. You learn that some people enjoy the way you put words and stories together and others, unfortunately, do not.

    You also learn that feedback from an agent or editor who takes the time to read your work is gold. Especially when (as you have pointed out) you realize how many writers are out there competing for that attention.

  3. Oh me...can't stop laughing once again. "Can't get married unless the ms. is sold ?"
    Does the suggestion that one run, not walk, away from this guy resonate at all here?
    Scott, poor guy, you seem to attract the truly dysfunctional these days. Mayhap the economy?
    Perhaps an article is in order here. too funny to give it away!