Today I wrote 1500 words about a recent trip I took. I’m happy with the article, like really happy with it. Now I just need to shop it around and see if anyone will buy it. That’s the hard part about this. You pour your guts into a thing like this and 90% of the time you don’t even get a response back. 9% of the remaining time, they say “No thanks.” It’s that one time out of a hundred that keeps you going when someone says “Thank you. We would love to see more.”
There’s nothing better than a good day writing. Not even a day that you get to invoice someone for your efforts. That is just the critique, in my opinion. If they gave you money for it, they liked it. I couldn’t care less about notes when that happens.
But an afternoon of putting the words together and constructing a story is wonderful. It was what I’ve been needing after so many days of editing and before that writing copy for law firms about Camp Lejeune. In the next few days, I’ll go back to writing some more copy of course, and hopefully by then, the jobs will open up again.
Compared to editing, writing is what I absolutely love doing. I don’t anticipate I will get to the point in my writing where I’ll ever be able to hand the dirty work of editing off to someone else. It is rough, dirty business. Over the last few days, I’ve been working through the book. I’ve cut entire scenes and one chapter. I know it’s far from polished. Right now I’m just trying to get the shape of the story. A rough cut from a rough draft. I need to make sure my technique is solid, my themes are apparent, but not blatant. I have to make sure the characters are relatable, but also flawed enough to keep them interesting, and have enough pathos to make them likable. And all sorts of crunchy flourishes that distinguish my writing from the rest of the crowd.
It goes beyond grammar and spelling. If grammar and spelling were the clay and water, and the idea that something is a bowl, all the rest is how you form the bowl to hold whatever it is you need it to hold. Pull that off, and you’ve got something. Otherwise, it’s a lump of clay. Or worse yet, a vanity press book with a glossy computer generated cover that looks like somebody made it in homeroom with a papyrus font for your title.
It takes a lot to write a book, and it takes everything to write a good book. I think my ideas are good and solid, but am I the one to craft this thing? What can be skipped? What can be honed? What can I leave to the imagination of the reader and what needs to be sharpened and tweaked. It’s not mechanics, it’s chemistry.
Do I have what it takes to write a book like that? I hope so. But I’m not optimistic it will do anything when I self-publish. Right now, I just don’t see any other way. Not too long ago, there were more than five publishers and they were willing to take risks. Now they only buy what they think will make them rich, and you need an agent on top of that. Even still, they do very little to market your book and if you don’t make back your advances by the third book, they cut you loose. Maybe self-publishing is the way to go. My last book didn’t do all that well, even though it was a fun read, and a blast to write.
Until then, I have the work and the work is its own reward.