Sunday, February 1, 2015

A writer's ramble

How many authors out there get frustrated with your lack of knowledge of your craft? Sure - we've   attended  the required English classes in high school and/or college. But how in-depth was the instruction? Did they teach you how to avoid  misplacing or letting your modifiers dangle or were they content if you knew the difference between a noun and pronoun?
     Anybody that has published a story or is in the process of submitting their work can tell you - it's a tough business. Each publisher's site will inform you - only submit POLISHED work. So you go through your manuscript again and again until you think, hmm, it's perfect. Low and behold - you get offered a contract. Now you think - WOW! I'm on my way.  Think again. I've heard it said - never give your editor a headache. Surely we'd not do this on purpose...But for a new author who was NOT an English major in school, this might be a fool's errand. Your work is now just beginning.

     Throughout history, we can look at famous authors who realized the value of education and persistence. Charles Dickens went BACK to school (twice), at age 12 and 15. I've read that JK Rowling's Harry Potter was turned down by 17 publishers before being accepted.
     It is as difficult for some to admit they need help with grammar as it is for others to accept criticism concerning character development. You pour your heart and soul into your story only to have someone tell you it's boring? Or perhaps you have too many of a certain type error... Hmmm, that's an ego stomper.
     Yet if we can suck it up, just a little, listen to what someone has to say, albeit with a grain of salt, maybe, just maybe, there's a thread that you can pull on to shed some light where you need it most. Keeping in mind that someone else's opinion is just that, someone else's opinion, we still need to listen and evaluate for ourselves. Is their criticism coming from a place of jealousy, spite, or a sincere  desire to see you improve? Perhaps you don't need to audit a class. You're auto didactic and can figure out these things on your own. Good for you.
     Even though my third book is about to be published, next week, I embark on another leg of my writing journey, going back to audit an English class. Yep, gonna walk right in and sit down next to these fresh-faced kids, look 'em in the eye and say - yeah, I'm here to learn. Oh boy...
     I can imagine in the following weeks there might be a bottle of Geritol (if anyone remembers that stuff), or similar item waiting. When I was that age - anyone over 25 was considered old...I'll settle for putting on my figurative blinders and focusing, reminding myself what I'm there to accomplish.  
     What's the point in doing something if you're not going to do it well? If you truly want a career in writing, do the work. Either that or pray for a winning lottery ticket, buy your own publishing house and publish junk.
                                           Just my humble opinion.


  1. I don't feel so much frustration but more bamboozalment. My previous endeavours were in social and political commentary with poetry and horror short stories. When I submitted my book I was concerned more of the content so when I got the first scan back with "you need to fix this, and this and this as well" I wanted to go back to every English teacher I ever had and wedgie them. Kudos to you for your initiative.

  2. Thanks...I think if I went back and told and teachers that I was a published author...they'd fall over in a dead faint.


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