On fire (and so, I worry)

July 11, 2011 in General Topics

Right now, I feel like I am hitting on all cylinders. All my fiction I needed to sub is out there in the wild, I am editing up a flurry on my novel (the reader feedback was quite useful, so I’m revising once more before getting back into submissions), and I find story ideas coming forward in a torrent. But it’s not enough.

I am euphoric when I am in the zone with my writing, but being the kind of person I find myself wondering if something will come along and dash me right out of my stride. One of the hardest parts about writing is that is so often crushing work, and crushing to the point that you start to get worried you are propping yourself up on Q-tip ramparts when things are going well, because someone’s come along and touched flame to the cotton so many times.

Imagine yourself in the role of a luckless vendor, where you worked hard for years and years chasing a better line of work, but instead found yourself in a job you didn’t like far longer than you thought possible, working for customers that are apathetic to your hopes and dreams, desperate to get even the occasional regular sale.

That is, at its basic level, the core of the relationship between writer and editor (and ultimately, audience). The readers don’t care one iota about your dream. They are heartless consumers, and only want the end product. The editor is that apathetic customer between you and them, fine-tuning the product you, the determined vendor, produced and delivered to them at (usually) a substantial discount to what the product could actually be worth. BUT — here’s the deal: they have to be apathetic. In a way, and to go Churchillian for a moment, like a republic verses the rest of the other governmental systems once could choose from, our submissions/slush system is “the best of the worst” options we could choose from.

It still doesn’t make it easy when you have one rejection after another, and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. There have been some times in this endeavor when I’ve been sorely tempted to outright give up. After a while the level of frustration can get to you — you want to wring your customers’ necks while shouting “give my work a chance!”. Then you have to remember that without their discretion, no market would have its particular style, and ultimately the fiction marketplace would fall apart.

Everytime I think I’ve had enough of it, that I have the most frustrating job in writing, I think to myself this: at least I am not the guy having to the write the “you were close, but not close enough” form letters. Brother, medieval executioners had an easier job.

Enough with cynicism. Back to it, pronto.

Stay tuned.