A Few Dilemmas Of The Writing Journey

A Few Dilemmas Of The Writing Journey

Authoring as​ a​ Risk-Taking Endeavor

Being an​ unpublished novelist poses all sorts of​ dilemmas. Writing is​ entrepreneurial in​ nature,​ more than most people realize,​ and it​ is​ fraught with make or​ break decisions. Which side of​ the​ political spectrum do you show yourself? Do you embellish this or​ that social issue,​ perhaps the​ one most fashionable,​ or​ do you hide from them all?

If your goal is​ publication for its own sake,​ and you've decided to​ write,​ say,​ Gothic romance number 214,​386,​ then you do need to​ follow the​ Gothic template. But you also need to​ make it​ stand out from most of​ the​ 214,​385 Gothics that came before. the​ burden to​ distinguish is​ higher for unpublished writers because they have no track record to​ give their work advanced credibility or​ benefit of​ the​ doubt. Yet if​ the​ novice distinguishes herself too well,​ then her originality may be viewed as​ too risky in​ itself.

This need to​ balance risks even extends to​ things that look simple and straightforward on​ paper. Take the​ question of​ how good your manuscript should be before you query it. the​ reference books are all unanimous in​ urging that your manuscript should simply be the​ best you can make it​ before submitting it. But it's not that simple in​ real life. First off,​ many amateur writers don't know how good their writing is​ relative to​ their own potential. This is​ especially true if​ you are trying to​ achieve a​ literary end that's new or​ different,​ say,​ push a​ new frontier in​ poetry,​ or​ achieve new levels of​ fright in​ horror.

In my own case,​ in​ writing Coinage of​ Commitment,​ I was bent on​ writing a​ love story unlike any other,​ a​ mainstream tale of​ love at​ a​ higher level. That made this project so different that even the​ style I adopted needed to​ be distinctive,​ a​ vivid way of​ expression that leads readers through the​ characters' souls to​ glimpse romantic love at​ breathtaking heights. That's not exactly stock stuff,​ making it​ risky to​ submit and hard to​ know when it​ was good enough to​ send out.

Not realizing what I was getting into,​ I polished the​ manuscript as​ best I could,​ then sent it​ out. Two months of​ querying later,​ when on​ a​ whim I sat down to​ reread it,​ I was shocked to​ discover that it​ was not the​ greatest love story ever written,​ something I suddenly discovered was important for me to​ achieve. Important enough that I pulled the​ ms off the​ market and sent it​ to​ not one but two independent editors in​ series. Three rewrites and seven months later,​ I resumed the​ query campaign. But by then,​ I wondered about the​ stability of​ my improvement progress.

Sure enough,​ despite best intentions,​ my writing ability kept jumping ahead of​ itself. I simply couldn't keep my hands off the​ ms for wanting to​ make it​ better. That meant that the​ sample chapters I sent out kept changing. Even after the​ ms was accepted for publication,​ I could not quench my hunger for better prose. My publisher,​ Saga Books,​ in​ a​ fit of​ artistic benevolence,​ held the​ presses for the​ extra weeks it​ took me to​ equilibrate at​ deciding,​ finally,​ that I could not improve a​ single word.

Yes,​ I realize that this is​ an​ unusual account. But it​ shows that every publishing journey is​ bound to​ be unique. So when you read simple instructions like: submit only your best work,​ don't be surprised if​ the​ path in​ execution is​ more tortuous than you ever dreamed it​ could be.

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