Tuesday, August 20, 2013

An Author's Biggest Fears

It's a daunting task to submit your personal work for publication.  Whether art, music, or writing, any human creation gets personal.  It is near impossible to distance yourself from your work.  It's a part of you; it's woven its way through every facet of your being.  Sounds like an exaggeration, but I don't think so.

All of the biggest fears you face as a writer stem from that same fundamental connection:

This is always our biggest worry.  When they reject your story, its like they are saying you aren't good enough.  There are a million things you could say to try to negate this fear, but nothing truly works.  It's like you have to stand up on a podium in your underwear and hear what people think about your body.

Short story writer Raymond Carver published a piece called, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.  It's a great story. After Carver's death, his wife unearthed how his editor, Gordon Lish, transformed the story.  Originally called Beginnings, the piece was much longer and positive.  The end result, after Lish crossed out pages and paragraphs, was different.

We can speculate all we want as to whether Carver agreed to the changes, if the end result was what he originally intended, but regardless, it is a fear among writers that an editor will transform his/her story into something we didn't want it to be in order to make it publishable.

Keeping the integrity of your story vs. being published.  Which do we want more?

You go through all the loops.  You manage to get your manuscript into the hands of an agent, then an editor, then a printing company.  It gets a cover with fancy artwork and your name is printed on the front.  It hits bookstores and it starts to sell.  Then the reviews come in.

People hate it.  Or worse, no ever buys it.

There are statistics that cite how many people who attempt to write a book ever get published.  The odds feel like the Lottery.  It feels near impossible.  We dream of JK Rowling type success, but we try not to keep our hopes up, because we know the chances are slim at best.

So why do we keep going?

We write because we wouldn't be able to live with ourselves otherwise.

Sure, our goal is to get published and gain recognition, but we all know the publishing system is flawed.  Endless amounts of top-notch writing never get to see the light of day while trash gets sold by the millions.

But our passion cannot be fueled by the desire for publication. 

The reason why we write must be independent of all else other than our desire to write.  It must be pure, unadulterated.  Otherwise, we'll be tossed helplessly into the sea of rejection, our self-worth and self-acceptance dependent on others' tainted opinions.

That's no way to live life, for anyone.

Say keep on keeping on, dear writer friends.  Let's keep at our art, regardless. 

Soli Deo Gloria.

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The Test for Every Writer
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What Bad Books Have That Good Books Don't
Writer's Block Doesn't Exist