We’re terrified to deceive you into thinking we’re “good enough.” We feel weirdly guilty for making every sale.
Aren’t you tired of writing the same thing? Don’t you see that all of your books look the same?
When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas…
Have you heard the story of astronaut pens? At the dawn of the space program, NASA encountered a sticky problem. They discovered that ball-point pens would not work outside of our atmosphere. The government quickly went to work developing a special new pen which could write upside-down, at any temperature from freezing to boiling, on any surface known to man, at any pressure, and in zero gravity. People were hired and ideas were considered, developed, tested, discarded, and considered again. Hours of research went into the project, and it was made top priority in the department. It took many manhours and twelve billion taxpayer dollars to come up with the space pen, but NASA finally got it down. Whew. Crisis averted. The Russians, of course had the same problem. So they used pencils. Okay, fine… truth be told, this is just an urban legend. It never really happened. But it’s still a perfect metaphor for the plot problems you might be having. Are you wrestling with why your protagonist would feel the need to serve as whistleblower on his company when he’s been working there happily for twenty-five years with no issues? Does it not make sense that the daughter would fall in love with the gardener upon whom the whole rest of the story hinges? Do you have a handful of stubborn characters who just won’t do what you tell them? Forget them. Don’t get so stuck in your path that it becomes a rut. It’s your path, your story. You can make up whatever the heck you want. Just write it another way and see what sticks. Assuming you aren’t staring down some giant deadline (and really, even if you are), what’s the worst that could happen? You write something in a totally different direction, and toss it later to return to your original idea? What’s the loss there? That your creative juices are now flowing and you pushed the stubborn what-ifs out of the way? That you ignored some formula or outline that obviously wasn’t working so well anyway? Standing still is never a good idea. Keep it moving. Even if it’s in a direction you don’t like. Even if the idea seems so freakishly simple that it sounds stupid at first thought. Let it go, and write something on the page. You can always go back later and fix it. Who’s going to read it if you’re unhappy with it in the end? Easy: no...
This is how it REALLY is. Unfortunately.
Rejected? No problem. Rejected again? Anger. Denial. Insanity. T.H. Mafi’s take on the classic cycle of a writer’s ego.
Stephen Hawking meets literary dreams meets Captain Obvious.
When it’s finally time to tackle the editing phase, there are a few major basics you should keep in mind.
Indie publishing queen Zoe Winters, who keeps accidentally inspiring me to write these mondo-long blog posts when I’m innocently trying to procrastinate by reading her blog in the first place, spoke today about the myth of The New York Gatekeepers of Publishing. From Zoe’s post: There is a lot of hullabaloo about “good writing” vs. “bad writing”. And how do you know if you’re a “good writer” or not? The sad truth is that you can’t. I think one of the reasons the gatekeepers hold SUCH strong sway over unpublished authors is that they NEED to know if they’re good or not. And the reason they need to know, probably more than other types of artists, is that EVERYBODY thinks they can write. Whether they can or not. Everybody believes they have a book in them. It’s not like other forms of art like painting and sculpting and film where people seem to have some basic grasp of whether or not they suck. So many writers don’t have enough self-confidence. And those that do often end up being the ones everybody mocks for self-publishing crap. So people are afraid if they have self-confidence it must mean they suck and are just deluded. So much ego is wrapped up in the act of writing. When a NY publisher says: “Yes! We will buy this work!” They are validating you. They’re an authority figure. To many writers these gatekeepers mean more to them than end readers. She’s right. Validation is a slippery thing. I’ve found more trouble dispelling that crazymaking need for outward validation than any other aspect of the illusionary writing life. Every time I thought my big break was imminent, something always came along to knock me back down to my comfortable place on the bottom rung. Usually, it was me. And before you say, “Well, I don’t care what other people think, I’m writing for myself,” let me tell you: writing to publish “for yourself” as an end goal is impossible emotional level to hit and score against. Here’s why. As a naive college kid, I remember thinking, “I’ll be a professional writer when I send out my first query letter to a major publishing house.” Then I did just that, and it turned out to be not that big of a deal. My family was unimpressed that the Highlights editor hand-penned a couple of words on one corner of my green form letter. If I remember...
Humpty Dumpty? Apparently, according to the BBC, he can’t break now. He ends up happy and superglued. The old lady in the shoe? She now gives kisses instead of whippings.