Saturday, April 16, 2005

Three Self-Delusions of Writers

by RudyG

Based on over 100 rejection letters from publishers, editors and agents, I can say there's at least three self-delusions writers have to get over:

1. "My words are beautiful and wonderful, just like they come out of my head."

2. "Everybody wants to hear them and will love them just as much as I do."

3. "Good writing isn't that hard; I do it all the time."

None of these are true. Here's what is:

1. Somewhere in the world there might be that 1% of writers who don't need to edit their first or second or third, etc., drafts. I'm not one of them. You're probably not either. Grow up. Accept self-editing
as a career if you want to become a good, serious writer. If it's just a hobby, you don't need to read further.

2. Nobody wants to read or hear your words yet, except your mom and maybe your Significant Other. Maybe. Everybody else you'll have to convince with the first line of your every story. And then the second one and the third, and it doesn't stop until you get them to the part that says: El Fin. You've got to love your own words, of course. Just stop patting yourself on the back. To get others to love them, you've got to make them, loveable. They're not intrinsically born that way.

3. Writing is easy, editing is hard, rewriting is harder, more editing is harder still, good writing is really, really hard. Get over it. If you just want to see some of your words on a piece of paper, that's easy. If you want to make people cry, laugh, ponder, jump up and down and want to know when they can read more of your stuff, you're going to have to work--hard and harder.

You know a lot about some of your writing weaknesses--the things that confuse people when they read your stuff, the punctuation you just kind of learned, lousy dialogue, the passive voice or high style you tend to start new stories with, etc. It's not nano-interstellar-robotics-science you need to learn, although it's not like arithmetic, either. But you can learn most, if not all of it.

--you've got the drive and the passion and are willing to stop deluding yourself. Now get to work and make me glad I wrote this. And edited it. And re-edited it. Etc.

© Rudy Ch. Garcia


Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

Excellent advice, three times over. Maybe this time 3 strikes means you're in, considering someone's game, that is. Gracias!

esteban said...

with regard to number two -

- "Nobody wants to read or hear your words yet, except your mom and maybe your Significant Other. Maybe." -

my mom runs when she sees me with paper in my hand and, under the same circumstances, my wife claims she has the runs then runs to the bathroom and locks the door

i did once, however, get this homeless guy to read a poem i wrote about homelessness but only after i bought him some pizza and beer

Anonymous said...

What's that homeless guy doing now, Esteban? I'm looking for a new reader.

Anonymous said...

Lorna Dee, thanks for the comment.
I've heard you run a wicked site yourself.

Jennie MacDonald said...

Thanks, Rudy, for a helpful wake-up call to less-experienced writers, and one that offers support for those who will let it. Jennie MacDonald