Mark Terry

Friday, February 02, 2007

Reminders For Writers

February 2, 2007
I received a couple of poster-sized copies of the cover art for The Devil's Pitchfork and The Serpent's Kiss this week and they're gorgeous. I also felt ever so slightly foolish, but then I reminded myself, "Hey, this is something to be really proud of. Not everybody gets to this point."

And it occurred to me that there was a much bigger thing going on here.

You see, once you get published, in most cases you want MORE or WHAT'S NEXT, or you perhaps even take for granted certain things--like getting published. I mean, it's very easy for me to look at my own books and say, "Yeah, that's good, but I wanted..." You pick. Bigger advance; more foreign sales; hardcover/mass market deal; movie deal; more and better reviews; more money; more sales; more, more, more, more...

I had to take a second to remind myself that it wasn't that long ago when I would have been happy just getting published. And voila, I am. It wasn't that long ago that I would have been happy making my living as a writer, and voila, I do. It wasn't that long ago... okay, actually, it was longer than 14 years ago, that I wanted to get ANYTHING published, and now it happens on a pretty much weekly basis.

So, a few reminders:

--if you've just started writing novels and you have your doubts, congratulate yourself. You have walked down to the pool that all of humanity drinks from--that of stories. EVERY culture has some kind of storytelling tradition and you've decided not just to drink from that pool but to add to that pool. This is a tradition that goes back to Gilgameseh and Homer and the Bible and the Koran and cave drawings. This is a PROFOUND thing, no matter how trivial it sometimes seems. (Don't let it go to your head. :))

--if you've completed a novel or story and you're hunting for an agent or publisher, even if you're getting rejections (it's a part of the process and never ends), congratulate yourself. This is an achievement--finishing the story--that many aspiring novelists never accomplish. It IS an accomplishment, and if you don't think so, imagine what it would look like if all the INCOMPLETED manuscripts were in one pile!

--if you've been published but you're not happy with the sales or the advance or any number of business-y related things, congratulate yourself anyway. You dreamed of this, you worked hard for it, it's an amazing accomplishment that few actually get to experience.

--if you make your living as a writer, whether by novels or something else, congratulate yourself. You have discovered that there are people who value you in an area that people often think has no value. It's like people making fun of TV shows, right? It must be bad and worthless (that's why so few people watch TV, right?). The fact is, being able to do this for money and to live off it is an unusual, often exhilarating thing. Congratulate yourself. [go read Allison Brennan's post on this at MurderSheWriters}.

And now that you're done congratulating yourself, get back to work. There's writing to be done!

Best,
Mark Terry

8 Comments:

Blogger Ron Estrada said...

And if you have doubts about your progress as a writer, go back and read the first manuscript, short story, etc. you wrote. After you cringe and shove it into the back of the file cabinet, congratulate yourself again.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Haven't done that, Ron. Although I was writing a screen treatment on a novel I shopped around unsuccessfully 7 or 8 years ago and was cringing a bit. I remember my agent at the time really liked it, but reading it now... well, let's just say I'd do things differently.

7:31 AM  
Anonymous spyscribbler said...

That's funny, Ron. I'm opposite of you. When I read old stuff I usually think, "Oh phew. It doesn't completely suck." And then I look at my current manuscript and wonder how I could possibly write better five years ago than now. *sigh* I am no judge of my own writing, that's for sure.

Hence the framed check. A new business, and this time I'm going to take pride in and be grateful for every step. Just like Mark reminded me, today! Thanks, Mark!

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Yes indeed, I struggle to maintain a reasonable perspective. It's easy for me to forget, when I am disappointed that we haven't been able to advance beyond a small publisher, that little more than fifteen years ago (and heck I was already in my forties) I would never have imagined that I would have any part of getting stories and even novels published by anyone. Hell, when I couldn't even get published in my college's literary magazine I would've been plenty happy to have co-written novels out from a small press!

9:29 AM  
Blogger Aimless Writer said...

Great Post.
Now go frame those art covers!

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