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Rhetoretician -- Fiction etc.

Why am I trying to get published?

Why am I trying to get published?

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Crescent & Star
 The other day, my old college friend John asked me why I didn't just go the "self-publication" route -- by which he meant, put them up on your web site and let anyone read them who wants to. My initial response was that I like the idea of the validation that would come from an editor saying, "Yes, we want this." But I realized that that answer didn't entirely satisfy me.

So I ask myself, what am I looking for in writing? Why am I writing? What will it mean for me to have "succeeded?" I came up with a list like this, in decreasing order of urgency:

  1. Most Importantly, I want people to read what I write and be moved by it. I want them to tell me that they were moved by it. I want to have made a difference to them.
  2. I'd like to earn the respect of people who know a lot about writing in general or SFF in particular. I'd like them to say, "He writes like a pro; let's see what he does next."
  3. In my dreams, I'd like to earn my bread from my writing. I know that that's very far-fetched, but I really love the idea of being a full-time writer. The reality's grittier than the idea, I know, but still, it's a lovely thought.
  4. Part of me would like to be a little famous; not grossly famous, not movie-star famous, not JKR famous, but gee, well-known among the cognoscenti. I've had a recurring fantasy (don't laugh) of being interviewed by Charlie Rose (as my friend Douglas was) or else by Terri Gross. That's about as much fame as I could stand.

Now, Desire #1 could be satisfied with fan fiction -- it was satisfied with fan fiction. So clearly that's not enough. Desire #2 can be satisfied only if I write original fiction -- but possibly I'd get it fulfilled by self-publication, if the right people started reading it (and I do know a few people who know a few people, so maybe it could be fulfilled that way). But I don't think most of those in-the-know would respect mere self-publication. So I'm reaching for Desire #2 (and maybe Desire #3?) by trying to get published, and trying to get published in the big markets -- otherwise why start my stories at Asimov's or Fish or Glimmer Train, rather than a semiprozine where I'd have a better chance of having my pieces accepted quickly? 
  • Wow..you are really serious about this. I wonder, how did you feel about this before you went on LJ? Either way, it's in your blood now. Too late. I'm glad it's too late. :)
    • Hi Rachel.

      First it was the fan fiction, then it was people telling me I should write original fiction, then...

      Life works in strange and circuitous ways.
  • Definately go for publishing

    I think being interviewed by Terri Gross would be the culmination of years of hard work and wonderful validation that you are an original, thoughtful voice worth listening too.
    • Re: Definately go for publishing

      Hi Gail. Thanks! That would be great validation, wouldn't it?

      (One would dread the "Terri Gross" question, though: "Tell me about [X traumatic personal event] that influenced [Y public or artistic action].")
  • • I agree there is something about having an editor say "We want this" that sounds like validation and recognition. My second though thought is that an editor is just a person with an opinion. That opinion can be more or less educated but at the end of the day it's just one opinion.
    Besides personally I have a sort of mistrust of "educated" opinions of literature(not that what I write can be called literature) in particular and art in general. I think I would prefer a rant full of exclamation marks as comment on a fan fiction site or a semiprozine to a review of a published work in "serious" magazine or newspaper by people who presume to be critiques .
    And yet I have a fantasy (that would not let go of me) of seeing a book by me in a bookstore window. It's the magic of the hard cover! (The book I imagine is always in hard cover for some reason :) The act of getting published, I think, does not make you a good or a bad writer but it shows that the world recognized you as a writer. Well, it seems I have returned to recognition after all. And while recognition isn't everything by far... there is something so seductive about having the world admit what you have always known and say "yes you are a writer".
    • Thank you for that thoughtful response.

      I agree with you mostly. I don't get much out of the exclamation marks on fan sites; I do like the more thoughtful comments that appear there, which tells me that, to the extent I hunger for praise, it's praise from people I can respect. My friends on LJ and elsewhere are thoughtful people like yourself, and their words of encouragement are like swimming in clear, cold water on a scorching hot day. I like the idea of being validated by an editor (at least the editor of a magazine I respect) for the same reason.

      I can't remember whether we've met before. If not, welcome! I gather from your icon that you're a Tonks fan? I also see that you're from Ukraine (although that's pretty much all I can read of your profile). My paternal grandfather was born in Rovno.
      • We have met. I left a comment for one of your stories. I am an HP fan(obviously and Tonks is one of my favorites).
        Now to the point. Of coarse everyone likes thoughtful reviews. A friend of mine says that finding a reader who will really appreciate what you have to say is a rare and valuable gift to a writer.They are readers that make it all worthwhile. You touch them and their insight helps you grow as a writer.
        But personally I also get a big kick out of seeing that my writing creates an emotional response in people (hence the exclamation marks) and always am really grateful when I come across people that can articulate what sort of response it was. Luckily thoughtful and emotional response are not mutually exclusive things.
        Thanks to you for a chance to think about writing, since for a while I've been altogether too focused on other things.
        *walks off to make an English version of her profile*
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