Tough Enough   6 comments

Working through the AQC Speculative Fiction Marathon is an experience in itself. As a result some things have gotten away from me. The blog, for example. It’s probably not a good idea to let it lay fallow for such a long time. Assuming I still have any readers out there, I’ll try not to do so again.

Jumping back into the blogging fray, it occurred to me that one has to have an extreme degree of toughness to consider becoming a writer. Either that, or just enjoy the sensation of pain. It’s a small wonder that Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was an Austrian writer and journalist. The namesake of masochism couldn’t have chosen a better profession to feed his need. (Short of volunteering to be a human target for a knife throwing class, that is.)

All that said, I will say that I am not a friend of pain. The less I experience that sensation in any of its myriad forms the better. But, like death and taxes, it is impossible to avoid completely. In particular when it stands between you and something you want. Such as becoming a published author, for instance.

When I have often heard a non-writer, and on occasion an aspiring writer, comment on what an easy job writing is; I come to two conclusions. One being that they have never tried to seriously become an author. The other is, they need to stop eating those wild mushrooms before they loose all sense of reality, or accidentally kill themselves.

The truth is, the moment you decide to pursue the career you have set yourself up for more work, and abuse, than you could possibly imagine. Not only is your ‘finished novel’ nowhere near as finished as you think, but the task of polishing your baby into publishing quality is one long hard road to travel. Until the book actually sees print you will be rewriting, revising, and rethinking every nuance in it. In short both your baby, and your ego is in for one hell of a beating.

Don’t think for a moment that self-publishing will save your tail, either. Not if your serious. In many ways self-publishing is harder than traditional publishing. Especially if you ignore any well meaning advise you may receive on your work. Since you won’t have the aid of a seasoned editor to help you, you’ll have to take the advice of your beta readers and peers. Ignore that, and I guarantee your reviews are going to chew you a new one. If you are lucky enough to get a review in the first place.

Even better, none of this so far takes into account the massive amount of work you will have to put into marketing your book, promoting your book, and advertising your book. Then, when all that is said and done, it is still quite possible that you’ve done little more than waste your time, effort, and money. The book can still fail simply because the reading public doesn’t want it.

As I said on AQC recently, (A phrase Darke liked so much she tweeted it.): The publishing business is a dog eat dog world, and we are all wearing Milkbone underwear.

Now, I do have to say that it is not my intention to scare anyone away from a career in writing. Instead I’m just trying to give a heads up. This job isn’t the sweet, work-less deal that many take it for. It is hard and brutal. To have a chance of success you have to be tough. You must be willing to wade through Hell just to sandpaper a wildcat’s ass in a phone booth.

It all boils down to one thing. How bad do you want it?

For myself, hand me a sheet of #6 grit, and close the door on the phone booth. πŸ˜‰



6 responses to “Tough Enough

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  1. Pete, its Desire.. I just dropped by to enjoy your blog.. yes please don’t stay away.. too long. happy blogging

  2. I too am in the midst of the AQC marathon. I put my life’s work up and found it still needs lots more work! Don’t get me wrong, the feedback is fantastic. But putting things out there for others to see and comment on, you’d best be thick skinned, not that any one has been harsh, far from it, perhaps being so polite in telling you to do better is what makes it so hard! Story first, feelings can wait.

    You said it “Not only is your β€˜finished novel’ nowhere near as finished as you think, but the task of polishing your baby into publishing quality is one long hard road to travel. Until the book actually sees print you will be rewriting, revising, and rethinking every nuance in it. In short both your baby, and your ego is in for one hell of a beating.”

    You are right on target here. Lots of work. Not for the faint of heart. Thanks for the thoughts. Love your quote too btw! I may tweet it as well!

    • Hi Dean.

      Go right ahead and tweet. πŸ˜‰

      I think I wrote this blog in response to the many times I’ve heard someone say, “Your a writer? Boy, do you have it easy!” (A sure sign that they have no idea of the enormous amount of work that goes into building a career as a writer.)

      The work doesn’t bother me, neither do the critiques. As I’ve said many times; I can’t fix it if I don’t know what’s wrong. Marathon has certainly helped me discover many areas that I’ve had to kick myself over for not noticing.

      Pretty much this blog was something of a heads up for any aspiring author, and a reminder to myself that I have a lot more work ahead of me.

      That wildcat is going to have one sore butt by the time I’m done. πŸ˜€

  3. I just watched a movie about a supposed ‘writer’ that had to finish his unstarted novel in thirty days or hit men would rub him out. He finished the thing, handed it into to his waiting editor (without any edits or cleanup), and got $25,000 for himself and another check for $100,000 to pay off the hit men. And to top it off, he wasn’t an established writer, this was his second book.

    No wonder people think we have it easy. Geez!

    • I saw that one, Michelle.

      Now if THAT wasn’t Fantasy, I don’t know what is. πŸ˜‰

      Most people, I think, don’t do the math. If everyone who wrote made it big, the NYT best seller list would look like the Library of Congress list. Take about as long to get through as well.

      Unfortunately, I think some of that rose colored glass ends up covering the eyes of new writers. Sorry to say the field isn’t another Sutter’s Mill and this isn’t the gold rush.

      I’ve nothing against a positive outlook. It is necessary. But, delusional expectations are far worse as they make the brick wall called reality hurt all the more when you ram your head into it.

      We can, and I believe will, succeed at this business. However it isn’t going to be a stroll through the garden of delight. πŸ˜‰

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