Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Today it occurred to me that there ought to be a warning sign for aspiring writers: Do not take the short cut.
It's not that short cuts do not exist. They do. In fact, there are many, it seems, who can attest to this fact. And it's not that short cuts in and of themselves are bad. They're not; they simply exist. And it's not that in a fit of mad querying I've turned slightly green at those who've found the short cut, bypassing the long line of weary travelers, and attained the golden crown of publishing. I haven't; at least not yet.
It's just that I believe in the power and energy of the long way, the narrow path, the school of hard knocks, the lesson of the journey over the destination.
That deduction could be a cop-out. Or an excuse. Or justification for yet another rejected query.
But it's not.
In a Literary Lab post on Pain, Gain, and Avoiding Both, Scott G.F. Bailey writes,
"...the longer-term benefit is that we become better writers when we struggle and suffer and fix our mistakes. Usually, we learn enough to not make that particular mistake ever again, which saves time and effort the next time we sit down to write."
- A comparison between my first (two-page, single-spaced) query letter and today's (three paragraph) leaner, tighter, meaner version.
- A comparison between my first tedious and meandering synopsis and today's streamlined and focused version.
- A comparison between my first big-on-idea, short-on-connecting-threads novel and today's completed (60,000 word YA urban fantasy) novel.
Does it mean I've arrived? Heavens no! I'm still on this journey. But when I realize the amount of knowledge I've gained, the skills I've acquired, and the mental synthesizing of great gobs of publishing voodoo, I'm -- quite frankly -- moved to amazement.
Thus, I have to say that I'm thankful for the journey. And gratified beyond belief that I didn't find the short cut. After all, it would be so bloody embarrassing if that first attempt at spinning YA brilliance had been published.