The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I thought I'd have a nice long uninterrupted writing session today, but things have cropped up and I'll have to squeeze patches of writing in here and there. I guess it doesn't matter that much because yesterday I worked on getting the first section smoothed out so I could read the whole thing--but it's taking longer than I thought, as usual. It'll take at least a couple of days to get that done.

But I'm happy and pleased with the world in general because I heard two pieces of very good news from other writers day before yesterday. The first is that a writer friend finished up a ms that said WF has been working on for several years. The wonderful thing about this is that I've seen a couple of incarnations of this ms, so I know that WF has consistently, patiently, doggedly worked toward feeling out what this ms wanted to be, consciously refusing to let market or business fears interfere with the heart and soul of the creative process. As a consequence, the ms has been a stylistic stretch from WF's previous work, and because WF didn't rush it or push it, but chose fruition as the ultimate goal, the story has visibly grown into its depth and potential.

I can't remember if I've posted this, because I say it so much, and everybody who knows me already knows my opinion, although they may not agree. For me, every book has an ideal form, and my job as a writer is to strive toward that ideal, to feel out the possibilities with an open mind, and to figure out what the book needs and wants to be. I will always necessarily fall short of that ideal, but it's the struggle and searching and goodhearted effort toward the ideal that are the true goal, not the printed and bound book that sits on the shelf. What happens to the book after it's published is a separate matter that has nothing to do with process. And although it would be nice if goodhearted effort was proportional to sales and acclaim, it usually is not. The only thing I have for sure is what happens when I'm alone in front of the computer, just me and the ms.*

So it pleases me down to my battered writerly bones to hear WF decide that the ms has indeed reached its current potential (we all know that another level of potential will be set when an editor gets invested in the ms) and is ready for the next step.

The other good news is from a WF whose ms I read several years ago, and which we discussed. We fell out of touch, but the ms has stayed at the back of my mind, because its strong points were extraordinarily strong, and because it was so very deserving of struggle and goodhearted effort. I hoped WF had not been ground down by this sucky business. To me, a ms becomes a living thing that requires its authors not to give up. If a living thing is going to die without you, you can't quit on it completely just because you're exhausted or feeling hopeless. Set it aside, yes; refill the well, yes--but not quit completely to let it die.

So anyway, this WF contacted me out of the blue to let me know that said WF had indeed been plugging away all these years, had been struggling and working to bring this ms to fulfillment--and that it had just sold in a multibook deal.

While I've been plugging away in various degrees of hope and hopelessness, other writers have been doing so too, with quiet dedication to craft and to their stories. Knowing this sooths my battered bones and warms my soul.

*It's an irony of this business that the more you focus on what a ms needs to be and the less you focus on whether it will be published, the more likely it becomes that the ms will be published. I will be so bold as to state that as a fact. Feel free to argue.

Blog Archive