Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Get Born

Acquaintance, perhaps 20 years younger than I, has finished his first novel (writing it, not reading it), and isn't sure if it's good or saleable. He said he gave it to five friends to read. One friend read it; no word from the other four. He expressed anxiety. What I saw was a writer being born. It ain't pretty.

Picking up the forceps, I said, "Why don't you hire a professional editor to read it and give you feedback?"

He said, "But that's so counterintuitive!"

Clamping the forceps around his head, I said, "Business is counterintuitive. But business is part of writing. We can be 90 percent artist, but have to be 10 percent businessperson."

Then I decided I didn't have the right to yank on him; he might yet be 10 to 20 years away from being ready to be born as a (professional) writer. But if he's ready, he will:

-budget to pay for professional advice.
-not be scared to learn a professional's opinion. In fact he will be eager for it.
-realize he needs help, that he can't do it alone or with just one or two writer friends his own age.
-see that I am not trying to drag him down to my (less talented) level; I'm just telling him something I learned.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we have all been there, haven't we? I wrote a memoir--it was ten years in the making. I was sure it was perfect. I had two agents over almost four years, who told me it was perfect. And where is it now? Retired, until I get around to a rewrite, I suppose.

    But I know that anxiety and the wanting everyone's confirmation that it's good. I think the step after the common-sense stuff you've mentioned is to not care about the opinions of others. Because, of course, we're doing it for the sake of the work, first and foremost.

    Love your new picture. It looks like springtime!