Thursday, December 07, 2006

Reality Of The Market & Some Inner Honesty

I woke up a bit depressed today about writing and the possibility of getting my WIP's published. It is not a new thing of course, any writer goes through these pangs of self-doubt, but one cannot forever live in la-la land all one's life, and keep on hoping.

Recently I have been particularly focused on my short story collection "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends". And I know that this is the hardest type of book to sell to any publisher. Though some of the stories have been published in a respected on-line site of short fiction called The Deepening, it is still is not a famous print magazine. And I knew all this going in to the battle, though for some reason 2006 was my year of writing short stories.

Today I sent an update which was pretty much empty of any possible accomplishments in regard to "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" to an editor friend of mine. And then I happened (after the letter was sent) to give my weekly peek at Rachel Vater's excellent blog, Lit Agent X.

As if I needed proof of the pudding here is what she writes in a post entitled E-Query Catch Up (from Dec. 6, 2006):
2. Short story collections… I don’t handle these. They are incredibly hard to sell unless you have been published in the New Yorker… and even then… I’m not actively seeking them. Poetry collections? Not at all.
Reality sets in. As authors and writers we often are tempted to fight the windmills of the publishing industry. That is why blogs such as Lit Agent X and Miss Snark and The Rejecter and The Evil Editor and so on and so forth are so popular. They clearly in no-nonsense terms tell us how to approach the agents, editors and publishers in the industry.

Reality, when dealing with your own work is an important, critical factor. It must at some time enter into all those dreams and hopes. It must factor into some part of your planning and aspirations. And yes, as many of you, I do have other works and ideas, both in fiction and non-fiction. And yes as many of you the process wears me down. The query letter to partial to whole to possible to waiting for weeks to reading about others who really do it in a few days, all of it wears down on me.

It is frustrating when as writers we cannot even get someone to look at what we write. Or our writing may be great but our query letters are real bad. Or we say the wrong thing, or we just cannot get the attention of the right person. And that is just the beginning of all the work.

So this post will go down as yet another of those million posts by "frustrated" authors about their inability to sell. Miss Snark certainly would tear it apart, and rightfully so. Self-pity is not a pretty thing. Depression in your chosen endeavor is ugly. Thus they would say, "Grow up and get out".

Yet in balance this is not a rant about the publishing industry nor about agents. They do their work and most do it extremely well. I am posting this just to remind all the authors out there who are searching, seeking and looking, to remember that while dreams are the stuff great things are made of, reality must and should always play a part in your plans.

Me? Yes I think the stories in "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" are incredibly good. I also think that such a book would sell. Of course I do. Don't you believe that about all the novels and books you write as well? Belief in what you do, belief in yourself is also a very important component in your dreams-reality based life.

But I also know that without being honest with myself I will enter into a world of make-believe where nothing will ever happen.

Believe in yourself. Dream. Go for the Gold. But keep a small little window open to the market and the reality of what is going on out there.

I will continue to write short stories and continue to attempt to sell them to the legitimate markets out there. But I know that without having quite a few of them published in the great short story mags of our time, there is little chance of seeing "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" in book form. Yes, I sigh at that thought. I allow myself that much. And perhaps it will down the line force me to stop writing anything and everything. That is also reality.

And no matter how ugly reality is, we should always face it otherwise we will turn into bitter, frustrated people. And as Pop used to tell me, bitterness makes a person mean. And mean people are ugly. So it is time for reality and inner honesty and to set your goals in the future based on your dreams. And if you choose to ignore the market and if frustrates you, do me one favor. Don't turn bitter and frustrated.

Possibly, one day, those dreams may just turn into your reality. And possibly they won't. But either way you will be satisfied with your own accomplishments. Which in the end is what it is all about, isn't it?

Posted On: Cobwebs Of The Mind

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