Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Striking out on my own...

So, I'm pretty sure I'll be finishing the current project.  It's running along nicely, feels so "good" I've been posting lots of excerpts on Facebook, and I haven't felt this sure of finishing something since Hiram Grange.  How do I know I'm probably going to finish it?

Well, for one thing, it's going in "the box".

During Hiram Grange, something felt... different.  I knew I would finish it.  A lot of the early drafts and false starts I threw away, but the "final" rough, handwritten draft I kept.  Because I knew this was the "real deal" (in other words, knew I'd finish it), so I kept the handwritten and then first typed rough draft in a box.

Why? Mostly nostalgia. Or because it's one of my "things".  I've no illusions of being popular enough someday that fans will want to buy this stuff off Ebay.  Not sure what I think about that practice, honestly, but then, I'm not much of a "collector" so I don't understand that mindset, period.  I collect things purely on nostalgic value, and that's it.

So,  Hiram Grange went "in the box".  That's how I knew I'd finish it.  The novel I worked on before this never went "in the box".  I kept drafting, redrafting, throwing away, rearranging.  But, as you can see from the picture above, this current project is "in the box".  Which means, I'll  be typing "The End" to this one, I'm pretty sure.

It's a nice feeling.

But different from Hiram Grange, for one big reason. 

I have nowhere to send this.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how lucky I was to get a gig like Hiram Grange so early on.  Was very freeing for me to KNOW that all I had to do was:

1. finish the story
2. not suck

...and it'd get published. And hey, I got a token advance and everything.  Got to enjoy lots of feedback from the publisher.  That was very empowering.  Really pushed me to my limits, to the point I  wrote the first draft in three months, writing nearly 6 hours a day at the library over summer break.

This one, different.  Because I've got nowhere to send it.  The acquisitions editor at HarperTeen really liked it, but two strikes fell against it:

1. It wasn't really a teen story
2. It didn't sit well with the sales team

And I have queried other publishers.  Have a few leads.  But for the most part, no one wants this like Shroud wanted Hiram.   

But I'm finding,  more and more, that I want to finish the story, and that's good enough. 

Regardless of whether or not it'll be published.

And that's probably my biggest issue with the new wave of digital self-publishing and self-publishing in general, especially for new writers.  Call me an idealist (and you'll be completely spot-on) but isn't that the whole point of writing in the first place?  That we have stories in our heads that MUST be written.  With no guarantee of them ever being published, but in the end, we MUST write them.

Again, call me an idealist.  An elitist.  I'm good for it.  Got a thick skin, and all.  But seems like to me, the whole self-publishing thing - especially if you haven't proven yourself as a writer - cheapens the whole writing process.  Is it about publishing whatever you want to, because you're "the boss", maybe not working quite as hard or remaining quite as patient because you know that quick avenue is there, waiting, calling, and tempting?

Or, is it about the passion for a story and storytelling that is ABOVE being published?  And yeah, I'll admit - I want to be read as much as the next writer. I want fans. A following.  Maybe to make some cash along the way.

But. more and more...I want to be a WRITER.  I want to LOVE WRITING.

Whether or not my writing gets published.  Because in the end, that's the only reason to push myself so hard.  Because I love what I'm doing.  And does that mean writers who self-publish don't love what they're doing? Of course not.

But - and no snark intended, because again, what's right for me as a writer isn't right for others - would half of them labor day in, day out, for years...if self-publishing WASN'T such an easy option?

I wonder.   All I know, for me...average Joe writer with very little in the way of a following, with very little cachet to separate me from thousands of others swarming the self-publishing wave, I need to love the story and the writing itself.  Because, far as I can tell, if I don't love that, then self-publishing will just be a pointless exercise of going through the motions so I can call myself "published".

I'm starting to love this story.

And getting more and more okay with striking out on my own.  Maybe someone will publish this.  But if not, at this point...I just want to write "The End". And somehow, I think that will be good enough.