You Want Me To Do What?!   4 comments

I’ve not spoken much about my standing in the Speculative Fiction Marathon, and there is good reason for it. Thus far I have either been very good, or very lucky. In the reviews of the first three chapters I have received only one ‘No’ vote. I didn’t address the issue because it would feel like bragging to me. I hate bragging, especially from myself. Bragging seems like an open opportunity to stick your foot in your mouth, and I haven’t sucked my toes since I was about 14 months old. At least, not if I could help it.

So, why bring it up now? Simply because it appears that I will be re-writing and re-posting chapter four. The vote stands at two ‘Yes’, and two ‘No.’ (See? If I had been crowing about my ‘stellar record’, I’d be dining on that same crow right about now.)

But, I digress. This offers me a perfect opportunity to muse about re-writing, plot holes, and editing in general. It also allows me to muse about these bumps in the road leading to published author, and the aspiring writer’s near phobic aversion to them.

If you are really serious about making a career as a writer, that’s all they are. Bumps in the road. If small things like this are major disasters for you, my sympathies when the really big things hit. You’re gonna get splattered across the literary landscape like semi-truck roadkill.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am definitely NOT saying that you have to roll over for every little nit that someone discovers in your manuscript. What I am saying is there will be things that you didn’t think of, and to let them go unaddressed simply because the reviewer, critic, or editor doesn’t see your ‘genius’ is just plain s-t-u-p-i-d. 99.99% of the time, you are passing up an opportunity to turn out something of a masterpiece for the sake of your ego.

I don’t know about anyone else, but my ego isn’t the one paying the bills, or trying to get this career off the ground. I am.

Wait a minute! Isn’t my ego the same thing as me? No. My ego is that very small part of me that has a bad habit of getting in the way and screwing up a good thing. Robert L. Ringer, in his seminal classic “Looking Out For Number One”, compared ego to a dinosaur. As long as you feed it, everything is fine. The moment you reach a point where you can’t feed it; it will step on your house.

I’m sorry to say that over the years I have tested this little theory of Robert’s. Know what? There are a few crushed houses in my wake that used to belong to me. Relationships where I just had to be right, jobs where I knew better than the boss, small businesses where I was the Boss and knew better than anyone else. Sometimes I wonder where I would be right now if I hadn’t let ego get in my way.

Think I’m going to let that little S.O.B get in my way this time? Oh, Hell no! If this is going to fail, I can do bad all by myself, thank you.

The point to all this meandering? Mostly it’s been to remind myself what letting my ego get in the way has cost me in the past. But, also to let any other, younger writers know what they have in store for them by letting their own dinosaur run unchecked.

One of the trickiest areas to deal with is knowing when something is a legitimate point, and when it actually is a story destroying opinion. Most things are not. They are simply something you didn’t notice, or a way of handling something that you didn’t think of. I’ll let you in on a little secret, too.

Even the best actor you can think of has a director telling them what to do. It’s the same in the publishing world. Editors, beta readers, agents, and critics are all doing the job of the director. Actors who puff up their ego, no matter how famous, soon find themselves without work. The actors who work with the director find themselves in demand, and very often on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. The same rule holds true for authors… in particular aspiring authors.

For myself, I’ll be re-writing chapter four, regardless. To be truthful about it, I’ll be re-writing the other three chapters as well. Even though they passed, there were many points made that I needed, and I’m sure going to use them. So, in the end it doesn’t really matter if I pass this week, or not. The only difference will be, if I don’t, the rest of the group will get to see the re-write before the story is finished. 😉 😀

But, before anyone thinks I’m totally wishy-washy; I will be keeping the term knight. There is ample evidence that the term could have originated with the Celts, as well as the practice of dubbing.

In The Epics of Celtic Ireland, by Jean Markale, (Which analyses the few surviving written accounts of Celtic mythology.) The Celtic God Mananann Mac Lir was often called the Knight of the Sea, and was referred to in the translations this way. Since the Celts did have a word for King, the word used to describe his title is obviously something else, and this word was translated as knight.

See? You don’t have to give up everything. 😉



4 responses to “You Want Me To Do What?!

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  1. You learn something new everyday. I didn’t know the term knight went back that far. And I also retweaked all my first chapters whether I got yes votes or no. The number of great points and small plot holes that were brought forward truly made the chapters better. I’m inspired by how deeply others see and how much effort everyone is putting forth to do great critiques.

    • I’ll second that emotion, Michelle. 😀

      I did know that a lot of the Arthurian legend could be traced directly back to the Celts. For instance,Kings and warlords did have squires, dubbing by a liege lord, and a ranking system. The Celts had as much an influence on medieval society as Rome did.

      As to what the actual word was, or meant, the Celts themselves did not leave any written records. Theirs was a strictly oral tradition. The Irish monks who wrote the stories down had more to do with translating the word as knight. All they really knew was it wasn’t king, which was what they expected concerning a pagan god, so they could have just chosen the next best thing in their minds

      Since they left me that much leeway, and a plausible explanation… I took it and ran with it. It is fantasy, after all. 😉

  2. I think this is the sort of thing every aspiring author should read, become aware of, and in some cases, be slapped with a trout until they learn to accept it. For the record, I was once one of those cases.

    The thing I love about the Marathon, though, is that you get multiple people’s opinions all at once. What one person didn’t like might have worked really well for another person, and then it’s up to your discretion. Of course, if almost everyone agrees that that one plot point doesn’t make sense, there’s no shame in shrugging and saying “You know, you’re probably right.” And changing it.

    • There certainly isn’t, Moon.

      To be honest there is also little harm in looking at the one person’s opinion and trying out what they have suggested. Sometimes I find that it can lead to an even better direction than the one I had planned to begin with.

      Of course, if it turns out to be something that doesn’t really help all that much, there is no harm in discarding said opinion as just a matter of taste. Now that’s a win-win situation if ever I saw one.

      However, it is true that if you have several people pointing out the same gaff… odds are they will represent a percentage of your potential readership who will feel the same way. And that is a sure red flag that you can not afford to ignore.

      I don’t know about anyone else, but at this stage in my career I can’t afford to give up 20%, 30%, or 40% of my potential readership.

      Heck, I seriously doubt I could afford that at ANY stage in my career! 😉 😀

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