My Preshusss!

Between the hack writer’s flood of popcorn novels, and the novels that spend two, three, or more years being vetted to within an inch of their lives, there is a happy medium.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to write your novel and polish it until it gleams like a precious jewel. When it’s finally published, the world is going to treat it just like any other book. It’s going to be judged by standards that have nothing to do with your dreams for your it, and the chances are (I’d say about 98%) that it isn’t going to astound the world. You’re going to have to work for readers, just like every other author, and nobody’s going to be beating down your door, offering you contracts for film rights.

The truth is that your book just isn’t that different from thousands of others, that your belief in its amazing genius is delusional, and the time you put into it could have been better spent learning the craft of writing — by reading good literature, studying writing, whether by taking courses or studying books on writing, or — and here’s the big one — writing several more books.

That applies to my books also. On days when there’s nary a sale in sight, and the world seems to have forgotten all about me, it helps to keep all that in mind — and just keep plugging away at the next book.

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14 thoughts on “My Preshusss!

  1. You hit the nail on the head, Catana. While I’m a fan of taking infinite pains with a novel – after all, it’s going to live longer than I do – I’ve seen many beginning writers get hooked on that first novel (me included, way back when), unable to let it go, and unable to move forward to other works where they could learn by doing. Some people go through it; others don’t. But apart from sounding a warning, the way you have here, there’s very little anyone can do to help these people. It’s something some writers just have to go through in their process.

    1. True, everyone has to find their own way through, but maybe a nudge will come at the right time for the right person. Read a blog post today that was relevant. Someone the blogger knows just published a book five years in the making — unedited. The heart-breaking question: why put so many years into something and not make sure it’s as nearly perfect as you can make it?

  2. Hear, hear!

    This is one of those disciplines where you should be doing it because you love it and want it to be awesome, not because you’re expecting the outside world to bow down.

    1. I wouldn’t mind a little bowing. 🙂 Ah, that was you I mentioned. I couldn’t remember where I’d see that bit about the poor fella who put so much work into his book, with the last-minute fail.

            1. I probably would have felt the same. I’ve started so many indie books that sounded as if they’d be fascinating, but the samples didn’t prove out. I’m not a grammar nazi, but I do have my limits,

  3. Doesn’t have to be paid. If you can do your own editing, there’s no need for an outsider, paid or not. I do my own, but I also usually have one or more beta readers look through for problems.

  4. Spot on, Catana. You don’t have to look far or wide to find vast numbers of writers who get upset when their book is met with overwhelming indifference. One of the hardest facts writers have to come to terms with is that, the Kings and Grishams of this world aside, many if not most books pretty much sink without a trace. I think we have to learn to treat our books as ends in themselves, and every sale and appreciative reader as an unexpected bonus.

    1. Yes, as Richard and PD said, the satisfaction has to come from the writing itself, and the accomplishment of having completed a work. Unless you write only for money, of course, which is the source of so much unmemorable trivia.

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