Among writers there is this instinctive idea that the first story you complete will be the one you must publish because it is the best story of its time! But truth be told—it’s not the best story, it’s not the most exciting one out there, or the most unique. Yeah, that hurts to hear, doesn’t it? Some people refuse to hear, and they plow ahead, going with any publisher who accepts their work without much criticism or thought. This often results in what I called on my website ‘Expedited Writing’, and this leads to a low-grade writing quality, which can overwhelm books with real potential.
“So what am I supposed to do? Why bother at all? If I can’t publish what I write, I’m just wasting my time.” Not exactly. Think of publication as the Olympics. At one point in their life, all those athletes decided, “You know what? I’m good at this. I can do it. I like doing it. If I practice and work hard enough, I bet I can go to the Olympics one day and compete!” But it’s a long road of training before they finally achieve their goal.
Writers should have the same mindset. Accept the fact that what you write while in the ‘Playground Experience’ may not be suitable for publication. Does that mean you’ll never publish that work? No—it doesn’t mean that at all. Once you’ve mastered the elements of writing, you can always go back to any story and rewrite it, crafting it much like a diamond miner cuts away at the coal to reach the precious stone and polish to make it shine. Not only that, but when you have a vast inventory of stories, since they are your stories, you can take a piece from one story and place it in another, and therefore craft an altogether unique story.
As a writer, you need to spend less time thinking about publication and more time perfecting your craft. Once you’ve mastered that, you will have the confidence you need to face rejection from publishers because you will understand it is not about your story and whether or not it is good enough, but rather it is because that agent or publisher isn’t right for you at that time.
Once we’ve reached mastery level, does that mean we don’t have to listen to critiques or constructive criticism anymore? Absolutely not. As a writer—as a human being—you should strive to always be learning. However, some criticism people give you can be wrong for you and the story, and the only way you will know that is by knowing your writing style and yourself. Some people will say something, and you will realize, “You know, I never thought of it like that before. I’ll keep that in mind!” But other times you simply have to say, “Thanks but no thanks. I have a reason for wording it exactly that way.” And that confidence comes from being mindful of every single word, sentence, phrase, paragraph, and scene you write as I mentioned earlier in this blog.
In school, many English teachers will discuss the ‘author’s intent’ for a passage, and there is such a thing (it’s usually nothing like what the teachers say it is, but still…). It must be rediscovered, and the way to do that is by knowing your craft, and to know it, you must spend time with it. Practice makes perfect, they say, and once you’ve perfected it, publication isn’t too far away.