Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Question from a Writer

Throughout the past few months, I have continually missed the mark with the work I have submitted to you and to contests. And each time I have suffered a disappointment, I have looked back—six months, one month, a week later!—and seen that I have been living behind a veil. How does this occur? I write, and it sounds normal enough, and then voila! I look again, and it’s as if a veil has been drawn off my face, and I can at last see the work for what it is, which is filled with promising ideas and clueless technique.

These have been rolling in lately so it is time to fill in some gaps.

Anon, what you are feeling right now is common with a lot of writers. It is that simple feeling of hopelessness that comes with writing. Please understand, it is common and there is a cure (sometimes).

This is a depressing business. When you consider the pain and misery you put into your stories. The time and money you spend all for a rejection. When you consider the number of people out there writing and the number of slots open to new writers, it is really enough for anyone to want to jump out a window.

Writing takes time. No, this does not mean that if you "pay your dues" the book deal will show up. This is a huge myth that writers spin. Hey, remember, you are all fiction writers so weaving that tale is easy. But, writing does take time.

During that time, it is up to you to learn from your mistakes. To take those classes, to learn the business and to grow as a writer. Too often, writers just dive into their next story with the beliefe that "this time it will be different" but they have done nothing to fix the problem.

I see this all of the time with writers sending stories to me. Remember that I keep everyone in a database so when I type your name in, the computer tells me you have already submitted. I do check to see what you did in the past. Now, here is the interesting thing. By the time I am this point, I have already read your story and made my decision. The notes have been made on on the outside of the package you sent. 9 out of 10 times (yes this is s cliche phrase but who cares) the writer has made the same mistake as he or she did on the last story.

At the SCWW conference, I had the chan ce to listen to Steve Berry. It was great to hear his story of growth and learning. He wrote for roughly 8 years and many manuscripts (that he noted were beyond good) before landing an agent. Then 12 years later, the book deal finally came in, and even then, there was luck attached to it. He was at the right place at the right time with a story someone wanted. Still, he noted that in those early years, he worked on growing as an author. He learned, he changed. But, he did listen to those critics. He didn't just keep doing the same thing.

So, for you new writers, remember. It takes time, but you need to use that time wisely.


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