Kay, so staying quiet is not really my strong point.
I guess I'll have to limit it to staying quiet about what currently need being stayed quiet about. (How's that for a beautiful, not to mention perfectly grammatical, sentence?:))
I hope to have an update by Friday.
Till then I get to sit nervously at my computer and pretend to be in one piece.
I've been thinking about rejections today. And I hope I don't offend my very pleasant anonymous poster who said, "Because the only difference between an author and a writer is luck."
I have to say, in 95% of all the writing I have seen, that's just not true.
I am a writer, at the moment. I've never been published outside of a newspaper, I have written three books, and have two WsIP. Pretty run of the mill as far as unpublished writers go. I've been writing off and on for about four years and very seriously for about 18 months. *shrug* I'm a writer.
Someone on writers.net (I think--I've been surfing too much the last few days) linked to a study where under-average test takers were asked to self-evaluate their test results. On average, they estimated that they had scored in the 62nd percentile. In actuality, they scored in the 19th percentile. The study suggested that the better you think you are at something, the worse you probably are, and that those who think they are okay and even pretty good, are probably doing great.
I think this applies to writing. In my creative writing classes in college (I have a BA in Creative Writing, go me:)) the people who had prose so beautiful it made you want to cry were always the most hesitant to send their stuff out to literary magazines. But the people who wrote the most agonizing, dead stories were always quick to say, "So, do you think it's ready? I think it's ready."
And what is there to say at that point?
I took a poetry class where there was this bitter, middle-aged, divorced woman who was the absolute epitome of the cliched bitter, middle-aged, divorced woman. They do not get any more bitter, middle-aged, or divorced than this woman. Anyway, she wrote poetry I would give a third grader a C for. It was terrible! The first time it was her turn to be work shopped it was a mess. We would say one very, very small thing and she would get up in arms. "Well, you just don't understand it." "No, XXX was the point of that." "Can't you see that I was trying to do XXXX?" And she didn't just say it, she screamed it! She was downright abusive. And not a single person said, "This sucks," we were just barely scratching the surface.
The next time she was up for critique, I kid you not, two people showed up to class. Me and one other brave soul, plus the professor.
We were again abused and screamed at even though we were trying to say nice things. (We learned from the last time. This time our compliments weren't good enough, I guess.)
My point is that people who think they have created great art and are completely closed off to suggestions are usually writing crap.
I would never comment on this if I had not been there myself. Worse, I really thought I was open to suggestion. My husband read my book and gave me an excellent run down of what did not work.
Clearly he did not understand my book and it was simply not the kind of fantasy he preferred. I brushed his suggestions aside and proceeded to start selling my book. It took a lot of rejections before I took a really good, hard look at my book and made myself think, "This is not the greatest book in the world. If it was, someone would have recognized that by now."
Now I look back at that first draft and I'm a little embarrassed. I have learned to be teachable and because of that, my work has improved. A lot. You know the award for most improved player? Does it go to the MVP? No, it goes to the person who sucked eggs in the beginning, and then became okay.
You know what? I sucked eggs. I'm okay now.
Do I have the greatest book in the world?
Ha!! No. I have a good story that is now encased in better prose than it originally was. That's all I have.
Is it good?
I think it's pretty good.
Can it sell? Maybe. In the hands of a good agent I think it's chances are better.
But I will never be a Neil Gaiman or a Stephen King, or even a Katherine Stone (who, especially in her early books, has prose to make you cry.)
I believe that skill is generally recognized. I know a lot of bestselling authors eventually write crap, but let's compare apples to apples for a moment and just look at debut novels. 95% of debut novels published by the big houses are excellent. Whether you like their genre/style/etc. most of them are clearly well-done. There's five percent that aren't, I grant you.
I also believe that 95% of the writers out there who are unpublished, and have been so for years and years, are not unlucky. They just aren't very good. And I know I will probably be raked over the coals for that sentence but that is what my experience has shown me.
Luck is a convenient scape goat. Luck is what takes a pretty good book and turns it into a bestseller instead of a well-written novel that got picked up by the wrong editor. But even that is stretching things. Bestsellers sell because someone likes them and is buying them. Don't tell me that Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling are bad writers. I don't care how beautiful or average their prose is, if they can tell such a good story that they entice the imagination of millions and even billions of people they are good writers. Period. Writing isn't all about prose--it's also about finding that spark that makes people want to read more . . . as shell out twenty bucks to do so.
The difference between 95% of authors and writers is not luck. It's skill. And you're not going to convince me otherwise.
And in ten years if I am still unpublished I will own up to that statement and declare myself to be without skill.
And you can quote me on that.