Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More on how NOT to get published

Thomas Hardy wrote after a particularly scathing review of Tess of the D'urbervilles, "If this continues, no more writing for me. A man must be a fool to stand and be shot at."

I know how poor Tom felt, on a much smaller scale of course. Even before the bad reviews come--and they will come--we feel shot at nearly every time we sit down to write. Or when we browse bookshelves and compare our writing to that of those who consistently sell hundreds of thousands of copies every year. Or when we receive yet another rejection.

Let's face it, this business is hard. It can be discouraging on the best of days. I tell fledgling writers if they need instant gratification or validation or the occasional pat on the back, they should go into a more encouraging field like the ministry or motherhood.

So here's number two on my list of how NOT to get published. Wait until someone likes you.

Take your manuscript to work and show it to the meanest, most critical and judgmental person there. Your father-in-law will do in this exercise as well. When they give you positive feedback, when they tell you they've never read anything more beautifully penned, and that you are the most brilliant, prolific writer since the Apostle Paul, you are ready to seek publication.

Until you get validation and encouragement from your peers, you shouldn't write another word. Who else but the people you work with or your family who never read a book until the Twilight series came out, can better judge your work?

By all means, don't go to writers' conferences and show your manuscript to people who actually know what they're talking about. Don't read books on the craft or practice with shorter pieces. Don't admit your first attempts might not be as good as you first thought, and should be rewritten from the first word or scrapped altogether.

So stop writing. There are already thousands upon thousands of writers more talented than you who can do what you do much better than you do it. Competition is too fierce. Publishers aren't buying so you might as well stop writing. You won't find the validation you crave in this economy so just give it up.

Great men undertake great things because they are great; fools, because they think them easy. - Vauvenargues

Happy Writing.

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