Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sage Advice from Holly Lisle

"Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." — Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I hero


Yesterday I opened up Holly Lisle's Mugging the Muse pdf file and started reading. I'd downloaded it originally about eight months ago, but never read it because I have a hard time reading on the computer and so reserve that for my own stuff (the reason I don't buy e-books).

Her introduction is called "Everyday Courage and the Writer" and really impacted me. She says:

"As a writer, you're going to attempt to sell the products of your mind to a world that doesn't care right now whether you breathe or not. You're going to strip your soul naked and parade it in front of editors and agents, publishers and eventually – if you're persistent and lucky and talented – readers. You're going to say, “What I carry around inside my head is so interesting, so compelling, so riveting, that you, the agent, are going to want to risk your reputation with editors for being a shrewd judge of talent to present the products of my fancy to them; and that you, the editor, are going to want to put your career on the line to fight to bring my imaginings to press; and that you, the publisher, are going to want to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars presenting these imaginings to a world that has never heard of me; and that you, the reader, are going to want to put your hard-earned money on the line so that I can tell you a story that will give you nothing tangible.”

Wow.

You know, I've never thought of it that way. But she's right. We writers are an arrogant bunch, aren't we? At least about our writing.

She goes on to say:

"While you are reaching out to editors, agents and publishers, you're going to fail. Over and over and over again, you are going to send things out and they are going to come back with impersonal rejection notices, with no notices at all, with the occasional signed memo that “This isn't for us.” You are going to stare at your words and sit in a darkened room and wonder, “What the hell is the matter with me?” You are going to take the rejections personally, are going to hurt, are going to bleed. Agents will turn you down, editors will turn you down, places that don't even pay for stories will turn you down."

Been there, done that, and while I don't exactly have the t-shirt because I haven't done it as much as I should, I get the general idea.

It does make me pause and wonder why the heck I'm even doing this. Why would anyone want to read what I write? There are so many astoundingly good authors out there, what makes me good enough to join the ranks of the published?

And what gets a writer published? It's said that you have to be tenacious and write well. I think that's a bunch of hooey. I have read so much dreck that I know that you don't necessarily have to write a good story. Oh, it helps, definitely. But I've seen dozens of stories from writing friends whose work is far better than much of what I've seen published get rejection after rejection.

That said, I don't have the magic answer (obviously). But I suppose the most important this is to write. To hone your craft. To submit constantly, and don't get beaten down.

And to download and read "Mugging the Muse" because it's pretty amazing so far. Oh, and did I mention that it's one of the many freebies on her site? What a great lady she is for sharing with us her words of wisdom.

1 comment:

MaryF said...

I have this downloaded too, and haven't read it for the same reason. Maybe I should just print it ;)