Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Advice to Writers

Write. That's my advice to everyone who wants to be a writer. That's where the joy is. 

Once the manuscript is finished, don't worry about trying to sell it. Leave that for your heirs. If they want to sell it, let them. Just start another book. You'll be happier. Sitting at the keyboard letting the story pour out of you is the only place where the true spirit of creativity takes flight. The constant second-guessing and trying to please the unknown masses of editors and agents, critiquers and readers will simply fill you with a deep internal suspicion that you may be inadequate. 

What have I been told by those who have read parts of this book that took so much from me? 

Some have said it moves too slowly, and needs to be sped up. Others have said I need to slow it down and put in more description.

Some have said my writing is lyrical and flowing. Others have said my writing is too stylish, as if I think perhaps I should be paid "by the word."

Some think my characters are charming and intriguing. Others feel there are too many of them, and that I should remove most of them and make it a romance between two of them, making the remainder either go away or become simply peripheral.

The most disconcerting, however, is the one thing that most people agree upon. I need to start with a bang, which I do not. I need to drag my villain to the front page. I'm told my readers won't wait twenty pages for the danger to begin. 

I wonder if any of them read Nora Roberts new book "Tribute," where there is really no danger apparent for about a hundred pages, then it hits the fan. I wasn't bored. Yet I'm being told readers can't wait twenty pages? Wow. There sure are a lot of rules in writing now. I think I've mentioned that before. I'm still stunned by it, but the fact remains that no one in a position to get the piece published will even read the manuscript if the first ten pages don't grab them unless I have "a name," like Roberts does. 

So I've ignored the butterflies in my stomach as best I could. I've edited the manuscript several times, and still not printed it to take along with me. I have ignored writing in my blog, calling my friends, working on my yarn projects... all the things I normally enjoy. Looking back over the time since finishing this first novel, I know I've been a little lost. It hasn't been much fun. 

We'll see how this workshop goes. Perhaps what I'll learn is something I already knew. I can write. I can't sell. 

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