heinlein's rules, sexified 4: you must put your story on the market


4. Don't Be A Pussy.

Warning: this post is not meant to make you feel good. This post is meant to kick your ass. I might make you feel better tomorrow. Or not. Depends on my mood.

Plus, I might be controversial and opinionated in this post. Unlike the others, ha! 

And it's my birthday so I get to do whatever I want, including kick your ass. And you are helpless against me because I get my way ALL DAY LONG! 

I could easily describe what I write as "stuff from the wrong side of the tracks."  My poor mother has lamented, "Why don't you write about being a mother??"

Um. Cuz it's boring as shit? I mean, have you read some of that self-aggrandizing drivel that passes for parenthood dissertation lately??? Gaaahhh. Plus. Yanno. I live it. Every. Freaking. Day.

Writing is an escapist art.

Okay, so you wrote your little treasure. You revised (too much). It's clean and sparkly and the best thing evah!! Have you submitted it? No?


If it's so great, why are you afraid momma editors won't like your girlfriend pwecious story? Because you know deep down it's Crap? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it's because you have a case of the Too-Big-For-Your-Britches. (And mistress mama knows the only cure is to yank 'em down and bend over.)

The name of the game is Submission. Take a look at the word (you're a writer, look, damn you! look!)  and think about what it means.

You must submit to editorial judgment. If you want to write and get read, and you want to make some real money doing it, 99% of the writers still need to deal with editors, and not the kind the writer pays, but the kind the READER pays by virtue of buying your story. That's reality. And maybe a run-on sentence. Why don't you just go diagram it and find out?

If you submit your work, you're going to get rejected. A lot.  Get over yourself.  The publishing industry is not there to stroke your penis ego.  Editors and readers, contrary to popular belief among a certain set of whiners writers, are not there to jack you off give you  warm and fuzzies. Editors actually aren't there for you at all, you whinging hack, they're there for the READER. Lock that Truth into your eternal soul right now. I don't care whether you think the hot selling stuff is drivel or not. Someone, somewhere, made a good decision on behalf of readers. Because they're buying it in droves.

Also, your story probably is crap. But then, so are most other submissions. Welcome to the great unwashed hell we call the bonfire slush pile. Unfortunately, most writers won't believe their stuff is crap until a dozen or more people tell them so. And until they realize their stuff is crap, they won't learn to uncrapify their writing.

To which you say:  Hey! I'm learning! All the time! My mind isn't closed! I know my stuff is crap.

Sad truth: You lie. To yourself, and to me. Oh you can talk a good game, but I call bullshit. Writers aren't too quick on the uptake about their own stuff. I know cuz I am one. Damn near most of us need to accumulate an assload of rejections in order to realize how hard we have to work to improve.

Here's the irony of the damn thing: If you have the guts to submit, you think your stuff isn't quite crap. But it is. Hence the slew of rejections, which seems the best way to beat the notion into a writer's head. In order to improve. And submit again. And get rejected. But for different reasons eventually, infinitely more annoying reasons because they're ones you can do absolutely nothing about, which honestly, is much more frustrating than just being a shitty writer. THAT you can do something about.

Those other reasons? We'll tackle those tomorrow.


Giles Hash said...

A friend of mine once postulated that the reason they don't submit their writing is because they're afraid of success, not failure. It goes without saying that if a writer wants their work out in the world, they have to PUT it there.

Great advice. :D

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Someone who is scared of success might just have a REALLY overinflated opinion of their own work.

Giles Hash said...

I don't know what she thinks of her work, but I don't understand it, even after discussing it with her. I'm afraid of failure, but in a way that motivates me to work hard so that I don't fail.

Peter Dudley said...

Happy birthday.

I can't wait to read tomorrow's post because I understand those "other reasons," and "annoying" is far too weak a word to describe them. I've submitted, and I've had short stories and poems published, collected a few rejections on my novels. Won contests. Been paid for my writing.

But I disagree with you on one point. (Yes, even though it's your birthday. I figure you won't read this until you've sobered up anyway.)

Constant self-flagellation is not a healthy way to live. At first (like I said in my comment on post #3), a lot of what we write is crap. But we get better, and later most of what we submit is pretty damned good. Rejection doesn't make us better. Rejection may help us learn to be more self-critical, but at some point rejection is just rejection. And a lot of really good work gets rejected for those "other reasons" we have absolutely no control over. Berating ourselves for being too crappy is a fast path to an early grave through stress and bitterness.

I am too busy for stress and bitterness. Which is why I quickly got sick of being whipped to a bloody pulp by those "other reasons" and stopped submitting my novel to agents. Instead, I submitted it to the world by self publishing it. Which in some ways is a much bigger risk.