Thursday, February 02, 2006

Plodding Along & Pat Walsh

It's slow going for my novel on narcolepsy, but I'm going to finish. I decided to shelve Bad Apples for a later date, as I don't want it to be the first book I submit to publishers and I'm not as excited about it as I should be.

My current project is a fictionalized (openly--I'm looking at YOU, Frey!) semi-autobiographical account in 1st person past. I tried writing it as 3rd limited, but the POV stilted my progress and obstructed my authentic voice, the voice that I want to tell this story.

Julie Worth at AbsoluteWrite posted a review of Pat Walsh's 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why It Just Might. Granting the endless title, I have to disagree with her opinion of it.

It must be personal taste that turns some of Walsh's readers off, because I thought it was a fantastic book for writers who've written something but who have yet to publish it, and perhaps it's a great read for those who haven't finished their first book as well. Contrary to finding his voice patronizing and superior, I found him self-effacing and humorous. Never underestimate the extent of an artist's potential reaction to his/her prospective middleman telling it to them like it is.

Pat Walsh doesn't sugarcoat it. At all. I LIKE brutal honesty. Time and time again, professionals in the publishing industry and authorial heivyweights have emphasized that the toughest criticism to stomach is often the most useful, and that's what 78 & 14 is: straight-forward, blunt discouragement to any wannabe who is writing for the wrong reasons, thinks s/he's hot shit when s/he's really lukewarm runs, and/or refuses to live in a state of mind we like to call Reality.

Maybe it's because I've already endured having some of the brightest minds of my generation call a lot of my work crap, or maybe it's because the past five years have been, more or less, a living nightmare for me that his words don't devastate me emotionally. I certainly didn't grow up with alligoator skin, and I definitely don't enjoy criticism of my strongest talent. But while several of Walsh's points hit home, I took them in stride like he intended, and I think (hope) that critics of his style will go back and reread the parts that were the hardest for them to take personally. That's the way we improve as writers.

Success as a writer depends not only on one's understanding the many facets of the creative rocess and perfecting them but also on the recognition that there are two faces of writing: artistic creation and the business model that sustains publication. The creative aspect of writing has no real stopping point, because one constantly edits and revises throughout the journey to publication. There is, however, a definite point when the business aspect kicks into gear, and many writers seem to forget that.

Which leads nicely into my upcoming post...


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