Friday, March 27, 2009

Things I've Learned to Date

Ah, sweet Friday. This has been a weird and slightly hellish week, where good news masqueraded as bad news and I dealt with many more body fluids that I typically like to handle. But I'll leave all that alone. Instead, here are some of the things I've learned about publishing. Feel free to add your own ...

1) It's a marathon, not a sprint. And you run it alone. No matter who reads your stuff, no matter how much support you have, writing is a solitary pursuit.  
2) The only variable I can control in this whole process is the quality of my own work. I can't control trends, or the economy, or the acquisitions process, or editors, or agents ... so there's no sense in worrying about it or thinking about it.
3) Number 2 is easier said than done.
4) Critique partners are essential. And I mean absolutely essential. And the choice of a crit partner is crucial, because they're like dogs and spouses. Over time, you start to resemble each other a little bit, so you better pick people whose writing you really admire. In this regard, I'm very fortunate.
5) You should always be working on your next project. Don't wait on the business for motivation or validation. And be prepared to work very, very hard.
6) You have to confront your weakness. Let's face it: we unpublished writers aren't unpublished because of our strengths. We're unpublished because of our weaknesses, so that's where we should spend our energy. If you don't know your weakness, or don't have any, see #4.
7) Money should be way, way down your list of priorities. If it's near the top, you're in it for the wrong reasons and you'll be disappointed. 
8) Every writer is different, and no one's process or approach is superior to anyone else's. The ONLY thing that matters at the end of the day is words on the page. So be comfortable in your skin, be kind to yourself, find the process that works for you.
9) You will get rejected. Over and over, sometimes very painfully. To make it easier, see #5.
10) Talent is real, but it's also cheap. At some level, everyone in this business is talented, so talent alone will never be enough.
11) You can never compare yourself to other writers. It's like comparing your faith in God to someone else's faith, or comparing fingerprints. It's too personal, too impossible. No two writers will ever walk the same path, so envy and bitterness are just wasted energy that could be spent becoming a better writer. Besides, this business is hard enough without all that crap. We writers should be nice to each other.

Happy Friday!


Mark Terry said...

You and I are a little cranky today, aren't we?

I would add:

12. Figure out why you're doing it and cling to that. But if you're doing it strictly because of money or fame, you're better off doing something else.

Jude Hardin said...

13. Rake in all the cash Mark and Jon don't care anything about.


Great list, Jon.

Mark Terry said...

Oh, I assure you Jude, I care about the cash. That's why writing fiction drives me crazy.

Erica Orloff said...

Oh, this is AWESOME!!!!!!!!

LurkerMonkey said...

Mark ... that channeling thing again.

LurkerMonkey said...

Jude, LOL. Here's how little I care about money: you can have 100% of the money I've made writing fiction so far.

Just kidding. In reality, I tend to believe that money follows passion, not the other way around. In my thinking, money is a byproduct, almost an afterthought.

Mark Terry said...

For many publishers, money is an afterthought.

Melanie Avila said...

This is a great list and something we should all remember. Thanks for sharing. :)

LurkerMonkey said...

Hey, I got spammed! Woo hoo!

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