Highs & Lows

January 8, 2011 at 2:22 am (writing)

Writing without the intention of being published is a level place with a reasonable amount of stability, but the moment you thrust yourself into the insanity that is the publishing industry, your peaceful hobby turns into an everyday rollercoaster ride. True, if you don’t make the effort to share, you miss out on feedback, positive as well as negative, and you always have that niggling sensation of “I wonder…” at the back of your brain. The majority of writers, whether they write primarily as a means of expression or want to pinpoint the elements of interest that are out there, do hope to someday see their work in print, but the moment you start putting yourself into a place of proper exposure, you are suddenly at the whim of industry “monsters”. I’m not talking about people or businesses – I’m referring to processes here.

I’m inclined to do up pictures, personifications of the terrible beasts that stomp their way into your path when you hit that road. In the beginning, there are the aspiring writer attackers. First is the critique creature. Some are intelligent and helpful, others are counter-intuitive and mean-spirited, and sometimes distinguishing between the two is really difficult. Next comes the advice ogre that spouts line after line of “this is how it MUST be done” drivel which is almost always out of context and often contradictory. And spurring on these two beasts, a monster of your own making, is doubt.

Those haranguers are always there, following you down the road. They are still hanging about when you run into the editing goblin and query troll. The editing goblin reproduces itself at an alarming rate, but in some cases this is an illusion – especially when it involves changing things, and then switching them back to what you had in the first place, repetitively. If you choose to ignore the editing goblin once you feel you’ve conquered it, there are a slew of other travellers on the writer’s path willing to cast stones your way for that decision.

The query troll is elusive, and just when you think you’ve caught up with it, it laughs in your face and runs off.

The last few monsters are submissions, rejections, negotiations and publicity. I’m becoming all too familiar with submissions and the worst of it is finding the right fit for your short pieces and an agent or publisher with a similar vision for your manuscripts. Each submission has the potential to morph into an evil rejection, the lowest of the lows. I haven’t had much experience with the last two beasts, but I’m going to be facing them soon, silhouettes on my horizon.

So what weapons do we have to handle these enemies? Well luckily, trying to get published lends various highs as well. Meeting other writers who support you, who keep your spirits up and understand the compulsions and issues that you deal with is a great high. Finding test readers who you can trust to offer honest and reliable constructive criticism is another good high. Getting sincere positive feedback can help fight off the devastating effects of facing multiple evil rejections, and of course, there is that ultimate knight in shining armour wielding victory and validation – the acceptance.

I’m still at the beginning of this path, but I have my eyes wide open and I’m learning when to pay attention and when to block out the senseless buzz. I still have a lot to learn and because I don’t have an agent or a contract with a major publishing house, the naysayers are everywhere, particularly the ones who don’t agree with my style. Until someone gives me a good reason to give up, and redirect my efforts elsewhere however, I’m staying on that path. Maybe, someday, this craziness will all be worth it.

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