Lately I’ve been working on a lot of behind the scenes stuff in an effort to get some of my works published either in magazines or books and one of the stumbling blocks I’ve come across is that having written something in my “online blog” actually constitutes previous publication. Well, wonderful, so that essentially took out everything I’ve written here – some of them with serious potential in my opinion.
Of course, I did not let that phase me, instead, I put my nose to the grindstone and I (with my trusty laptop) sat clunking out stories which are presently in various stages of edit…seemingly endless…but that’s another story. One of the things I’ve noticed about my writing is that when I know I’m writing directly for publication, I edit on the fly and come out with a good/passable story that is coherent, to the point, well formed and concludes well. When I am writing for the potential of publication…well, let’s just say that the Thinking Mechanism gets in the way. Stories lose sight of their endings despite having created a solid structure, or they get way too wordy, or (and this happens a lot) I actually lose interest in the story itself. I lose touch with what I started out creating, that spark fades, I yawn, I struggle to get back on track and suddenly, I’ve got 7 pages sitting in byte-land merely taking up space on my hard drive.
It’s really odd how much I struggle outside of this blog. The ideas just don’t flow as well. Again, this is in my opinion – as nothing has made it to publication yet, I only assume that this opinion is actually shared. I’ve considered entering contests as well but I run into issues there too – the story starts to take on a life of it’s own (which is actually good for a writer, no?) but that life ends up in total contrast to the one I envisioned for it and what started out as a short story is suddenly 9 pages of a novella/novel-in-progress (since the story for some reason does not wish to conclude itself).
I’ve also been very harsh with myself – we are, after all our worst critics, correct? I’ve taken a 5 page story and condensed it, then condensed it, walked away from it, only to come back fresh with even more room in the condenser and hacked off bits/pieces to make it fit into a 3000 word limit. I had family read the story and, perhaps a little biased, they said they loved it. I asked mean questions like whether or not they thought it was “chunky” or if they felt the “flow” was even. I asked about the readability of the characters, whether they seem genuine. I asked about the conclusion and whether they felt there was anything that seemed skipped or forced and I only received positive replies. Now the next thing rolling around in my head is – can I trust my family to actually give an unbiased critique? My answer was always No, despite knowing that these are the people who will happily criticize my home, my hair and my style of living. In seeking some form of acknowledgement for a “job well done” (Ha!), I box it up and send it off to contests and publishers. Weeks pass. No replies. Contest deadlines come and go then finally the results are published and I find that I’m now out $50.
Breaking into this game is tough and it makes me wonder if breaking in is really what I want to be doing. I write. Is this not enough for my own satisfaction? I create. Whether people get to see these creations or not is completely up to me. Surely if I’m writing for entertainment, then believe you me, it was very entertaining (for me) undergoing the writing process. Is writing really not just about keeping true to your own creative process and inner voice?
I’m sure no one published has ever really believed that, have they?
It was suggested to me that perhaps I take the self published route and just get myself out there, establish a small following and hopefully build on that through word of keystroke – odd how it’s not “mouth” anymore, huh? – just keep plunking away on those keys and create something called an e-book for everyone to enjoy. Well, this is a possibility that requires some amount of research on my part, not to mention the honing of some marketing skills. Time to shake the dust off those business texts.
Here is where the inner critic surfaces again. I’ve read some self published hard copy (paying good money for them, mind you) and I’ve read a good many e-books, and my one critique? Extremely poor editing. This could be the anal-retentive editor in me speaking but when I’m reading a book and I feel the driving urge to get a pencil and circle the glaring spelling error or take a paragraph and suggest a movement so that the idea flows more clearly, well, then you know that someone took the easy way out and didn’t work hard enough to please me. I can actually be pleased quite easily as a reader and that is simply by not selling your craft short.
Maybe its just me. Maybe I need to be okay with selling my craft short. Maybe what I have is actually “good enough” and I just haven’t hit the right mark yet (oh yes, you’re all marked my publishing friends…) or maybe, I just need to fire the editor in my head, self publish what i have into that e-book and let the cards fall where they must. Oh decisions, decisions…
Publication, schmublication!! I’m holding true to my craft. I write because it gives me enjoyment. I write because it develops skills of patience. I write because it forces me to be honest with myself. I write because it makes me a better person. I write because I want to feel whole again. There are many writers in this world, not all of us will “make it” but we will all grow because of it.
Cheers to all of my fellow writers!