There is a certain stigma that prevails among many unpublished authors regarding the duration and extent at which they should talk about the manuscripts that
1.) they are writing
2.) they are revising
3.) they are currently sending out on query
4.) they are stuck on, and are bemoaning incessantly about
in their respective blogs. People consider authors with unpublished material (in the novel-making category, anyway) as something of an untried breed – unless you’d proven your worth with the world-weary editors and agents of the publishing world, your work is original fanfiction as far as the majority is concerned.
And I understand that. Really, I do. Whether it’s about a one-legged heroine in a dystopian America led by Donald Trump’s mutated hair, or a paranormal romance between a “plain” girl and a half-unicorn half-merman, or an erotic romance about a woman’s unusual chapstick fetish, writing is a private endeavor, and isn’t something you can dangle before the public without being plagued by the self-doubt of not being good enough to even warrant a serious critic.
I’ve written two novels query-able novels, but I can only count on one hand (if the hand had been amputated by a serial killer and now only had three fingers left) the number of times I’ve mentioned either in detail in this blog. In fact, I’ve used up more blog entries talking about my refusal to share tidbits of my work than otherwise. Part of the reason is my irrational, compulsive fear that potential writers wandering in may pick up their own ideas from my self-proclaimed high-concept themes and wind up oversaturating agents’ inboxes with similar – okay not really, the five people visiting this blog won’t have that much staying power.
The real reason is my fear that most people – family, friends, significant other, frenemies (or as I’d like to call them, enemiends) – won’t understand why I’m spending the majority of my time making things up and writing them down instead of some other noteworthy jobs like organic farming or curing cancer.**
And that isn’t healthy, at least for a writer.
No matter how ridiculous you think the work might seem in the eyes of others, you owe it a chance to breathe out in the open and to, as a compromise, talk about it the way you should take everything else – within a certain modicum of moderation. Talk about it more often, adjust to the feeling of letting more people inside your secret world. It’s hard to stem the flow of self-criticism, nitpicking at every bit of text from inside your own headspace, and the idea that other people could possibly confirm your worst fears that it really does suck is a frightening notion. But that’s what being a writer is all about, and if you can’t deal with what a handful of people are going to say about something you’ve written, then you will never make it past the agents, the publishers, the book bloggers and critics, that self-governing body we occasionally refer to as the internet. Like any Alcoholics Anonymous member , you need to stand up, face your peers, and say:
Hi. My name is Rin. My most recent manuscript is a YA psychological horror novel that I am pitching as The Grudge meets Dexter in the Dark, and I am a writer. It deals with the first-person perspective, semi-literary present tense narrative of an undead girl protagonist, and I am a writer. It will include doll rituals, exorcisms, shrine maidens, and nasty masked ghosts in black, and I am a writer. It is 59,000 words and based on a popular Japanese ghost story that inspired such works as the Ringu, and I am a writer.
It is called The Unnatural States of Dead Girls in Wells, and I am a writer.
** I find no contradiction in sending my queries and manuscripts out to agents, on the other hand. Mostly because I assume they’ve seen so much ridiculous submissions in their emails that my shame won’t make much of a difference to them.
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