Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sucking it Up

It must be the February blahs. Blogs all over the sphere are springing up with the periodic lament of a writer’s plight. Rejections, how meager our rewards are in relation to the quantity of our souls left on each page. It gets old, navel-gazing raised to the level of whining. Let’s refine the argument.

The question is: Why do you (personally) write? If you write solely for the joy of putting stories on paper, then you're already successful; have a ball.

If you write to get published, suck it up. There are more writers than publishing venues; it’s not going to change. I was an orchestral musician in a previous life before I turned my attention to writing. It's a lot less discouraging to get a rejection in the mail you paid 41 cents for than it is to fly across the country and book a night or two of hotel at mid-week prices so you can play a five-minute audition in competition with 150 others who are vying for the same spot, for a job that may not pay enough to live on. Send your story off and forget about it while you work on the next. It’s not such a bad deal.

If you're writing to make a living from it and aren't, then quit. The “I couldn’t live if I didn’t write” argument doesn't apply to someone who does it for the money.

I can name several good writers of personal acquaintance who might be published now if they spent half the time refining their writing they currently spend bitching about how tough the market is. I have had several short stories published, but publishers have so far managed to pass on all novel submissions, though they claim it pains them to do so. So it goes. (Sorry, Kurt.) The only way I see to keep moving forward is to accept each series of rejections with a simple phrase: The book wasn’t good enough. Make it – or the next one – better. That’s all I can control, so that’s what I deal with. To do otherwise makes it too easy to confuse reasons with excuses.

1 comment:

Kim Smith said...

Hey Dana! thanks for posting over at MB4 -- just wanted to return the favor. When you say that someone who is writing to make a living, but isn't, should quit, are you talking about anyone or maybe a journalist? Heck, I don't know anyone aside from a journalist who is making a living at writing :) but then my associations are pretty limited ! The fiction novel writing industry has gotten so tight and the money offered so low, it is pretty impossible to quit the day job and do this thing we love solely as a source of income.

-anyway, thanks for letting me ramble ;)

Kim Smith