I almost never do this. After all, this blog is about general culture and movies and books written by other people and stuff. It’s not supposed to be a vehicle for the neurotic outpourings of a reasonably unknown science fiction writer. But people ask for these things, so I guess this is as good a place as any.
So, since most of the CE audience is getting their first look under the hood, I’ll tell you a bit about how and what I write.
First off, I write for traditional publishers, and I write for pay (other than this blog, which I write because I find a lot of stuff interesting and because I meet a lot of other people who also like Wodehouse and old movies and classic cars and whatever else I happened to riff on). Both of the conditions above mean that, unlike self-published writers, I get to deal with gatekeepers.
And despite what you might have read elsewhere (especially for those who read my whinings on Facebook) that is a good thing. It means that there is an editor involved who decided my work was good enough to grace their publication (or their list, if they are an author). Then, usually, there’s a publisher somewhere who needs to make money on the book. And then there are readers and reviewers who need to like it.
The upshot is that, unlike this post, my books and stories need to be written in such a way that they hang together coherently. Or at least coherently enough that editors and publishers send me checks as opposed to large men with lead pipes and orders to break my knees.
Also, they need to be spelled correctly and grammatically composed. If I fail to do that, broken knees will look like a vacation compared to the rejection letter they’ll send me. Getrude Stein knows of what I speak.
Which means that I spend a large amount of my writing time either editing the stuff I’ve written before. And as time goes on, I’ve discovered two things.
The first is that the moment during which I hate my writing the most is when I’ve just committed it to the page. After each session I’m pretty much sure that my career is over and that the World Writers Association of Actual Writers will be sending me a cease and desist order.
Actually, that’s a lie. The time when I hate the writing most is when I’m editing it and rewriting.
Which is what I was doing earlier today. It is the activity which prompted this post. You see, the novel I’m currently doing a bunch of composing and then rewriting and editing on and which needs another 20 thousand words now, is one that was requested by an editor who works for a publisher that I really, really want to sell a bunch of books to.
So I’m in the unenviable position of having a novel which I’m editing and rewriting of which I hate every word and which is a key stepping stone for me. Oh, and I have to get it turned in in the next ten days. Or else.
Is this a whine? Perhaps. But it’s also a celebration of everything good about being a writer. I know hundreds of writers who’d love to be in my position. But every one of them, as well as the hundreds in whose shoes I’d love to be, will understand that sometimes you just have to send that piece out into the wild in as good shape as you can bring it to. In six months you probably won’t hate it as much as you do now.
Or maybe you will, but the editor will still love it and so will hollywood, and they’ll send you checks so large the zeros have to be on microfilm.
And that is the second thing I’ve learned (bet you’d already forgotten I said two things): writing that sits on a hard drive isn’t going to bring you any readers. If it isn’t good enough, editors will kindly let you now out of the goodness of their hearts with feel-good missives saying things like “Dear Author, please never send us anything again. and remove our email from your files.” But at least you’ll know.
So yeah, I feel like a bunch of drunken monkeys could have written the novel I’ll be sending out in ten days… And if that’s true, they’ll let me know. But I won’t sit on it.
Anyway, if you still feel like reading more of these writerly musings, I can make it a regular post here.
Or I can never do it again. You guys aren’t shy about letting me know…
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist. One of his novels is Outside, and both an editor and a publisher thought it was good enough to send him money for, so it might be better than the one mentioned in the post above.