This Writing Thing is HARD. Or is it?

So, I saw two different posts/videos that fit together nicely.

First one is from the wonderful QQ: It’s not THAT hard to get published… right? WRONG.

Read the whole post.  It’s worth the time.  But if you don’t, at least read this:

“Standing out above the crap is only half the battle….Being good isn’t good enough. You have to be better.”

Interestingly, it shares a lot in common with the video I want to link to in that they both compare being a writer to other pursuits that require an extremely high amount of dedication and effort.  (As they should…)

And I think, really, that they’re both making the same point.  But the video probably is more motivating.  So, here it is:

Anne Rice giving writing advice:

And what is the point that they’re both making?

That this is not going to happen overnight.  You need to keep at it and keep at it and keep at it.  And if you do that, you will probably ultimately make it.  (There are NO guarantees in life, so I can’t say you will make it.)

But the surefire way to fail at this?  Quit.  Give up.  Decide it’s rigged against you.  Decide that you don’t have the connections to make it.  Decide that no one will buy what you write.

I can guarantee that if you stop writing and stop submitting that you will not get published.  (Well, maybe by your children someday after you’re dead and they discover your stories…but, you know what I mean.)

So, like Anne Rice said, WRITE.  And write some more.  And some more.  And stay true to the story that YOU want to tell.

In the discussion thread where I found this video there was what I think was a bit of a misinterpretation of something Anne Rice says in the video.  So, I’ll tell you my take on it.

She said that if you submit your novel and you get back a rejection and redlined changes on the novel that you shouldn’t edit the novel.  Instead, wait for someone who loves the novel and if that person suggests making changes, then make the changes (or at least consider them).

She’s not saying don’t edit your novel.  She’s saying don’t edit it for just anyone.

Think of it this way.

You have a story that you are trying to tell the world.  Not everyone will understand or engage with that story.  In order to tell the story that you want to tell in the most powerful manner possible, you may need to edit that story.  But you need to listen to the people who understand the story you’re trying to tell–who share your passion and can help you refine the story to be the best it is.

You don’t want to write a tragic romance and then edit it to fit the tastes of someone who wants to turn it into a horror novel.

Does that make sense?  I hope it does.

I think one of the biggest struggles as a new writer is trying to stay true to your vision while also listening to the feedback you receive so that you can improve.  You cannot and should not change your writing in response to every comment you receive.

(Try living your life that way.  Not possible.)

It’s easy to doubt yourself in the early stages.  No on wants to buy your work, so that must mean it needs to be edited, right?

Well, maybe not.  Maybe it’s another issue.  Maybe it was just bad timing.  Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit for that market/agent/editor.  Maybe it’s just a matter of refining your voice a little and those edits aren’t going to help you do that.

As an example.  A while back I received a very encouraging personal rejection for a story of mine.  It was still a rejection, yes.  And it did have some minor critiques of the story.  But the rejection  also said, “I can’t imagine you will have much problem placing it…”

Now, honestly, the person liked the story, so if they’d had a specific critique it would’ve been worth serious consideration.  But the critique they gave was more high-level and something I chose to incorporate into my overall approach to future stories instead.

Anyway, I digress.  The reason I bring this up is because I shared it with a fellow aspiring writer and that person’s immediate reaction was that the story needed to be changed.  Drastically changed.  Organ harvesting changed.  (Literally.)

Now, if the next market I submitted it to has the same critique, then, alright, time to give it some thought.  But editing can’t be a knee-jerk reaction.  You have to know the story you’re trying to tell and be able to judge whether the edits you receive get you closer to where you want to be or not.  And someone who says I hated your story and then suggests edits is not the person to listen to.

So, to sum up.  Write.  Write some more.  Keep at this.  If you want it enough and you keep at it long enough, you’ll get there.  It may take a decade.  (Seriously.)  It may take two.

And stay true to what you want to write.  Listen to the feedback you receive because you can always improve, but know where you want to be and make sure that you listen to the people who can get you there not just anyone with an opinion.


About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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