Monday, September 12, 2011

From Head to Hand: The X Factor

I've known I want to be a writer since I was seven years old.  I studied Creative Writing as my major for my Bachelor of Arts.  I've written my first novel and I'm about to start yet another edit.

But a nagging fear remains...

What if I don't have what it takes?  What if I'm deluding myself by thinking I can write?  What if I'm just regurgitating stuff every other author has written?  What if a publishing company says to me what Marty McFly feared a record company would say to him in Back to the Future - "I mean, what if they say I'm no good?  What if they say, "Get out of here, kid.  You got no future."?

Duncan and I have been watching The X Factor a bit lately.  When a contestant with a truly awful voice takes the stage, Duncan often comments, "Do they seriously think they're any good?  Don't they have anyone in their lives who can tell them the truth?"

I think I might be as deluded as some of The X Factor contestants because, despite some uncertainties, I don't have a great fear of rejection (probably because I haven't experienced it on a large scale yet).  I feel very strongly that God wants me to succeed as a writer.  I have a great passion for reaching those who don't know Christ through fiction.  Sometimes I'm more scared of my own determination than anything else.  Everyone keeps saying how hard it is to break into the industry.  I must be a fruitloop for thinking I can make it.  I've asked four people to look over my manuscript and give me their honest reflections.  So far, all of the feedback I've received has been very helpful.  I was especially chuffed that a bloke in my target age range (20-50) really likes it; he has just mostly been helping with sentence structure etc, but he loves the plot.  My editors are truthful people; they wouldn't say that they like it just to please me.  They are honest, but tactfully so.

Yet, despite some people thinking I will make it, I'm trying to dose myself up on reality.  Apparently JK Rowling was rejected by one publisher because they thought the Harry Potter storyline would be too difficult for children to understand.  Sarah O'Hare (now Murdoch) was apparently turned away by a modelling agency because she had short hair.  Yep, I bet those agencies are now kicking themselves!

Those examples give me hope because they show that one rejection (or even a few) doesn't mean the end of the road.  The 'experts' can be wrong.  My question is: how wrong can they be?  They ARE the 'experts' after all - they must have some idea of what constitutes talent.  How many rejections should you experience before you give up?

I really have no idea what I'd do if my book gets rejected by publisher after publisher.  I guess I'd keep trying because I've worked my butt off on this book and I'm not going to lie down without a fight.  But rejection can be demoralising.  I'm trying to prepare myself as best as I can in my head.

Maybe I should take my own advice and advice others have given me:
  • Don't stress about originality - your work is still unique.
  • Invite others to critique your work. 
  • Edit, edit, edit.  It's painstaking, but worth it.  Don't be satisfied until it's the best it can be.
  • Take a writing course like I did at uni.  Even if you don't want to do a full degree, it might be worth doing a few units.
  • Explore self-publishing options.  I don't want to go there with my book, but it might be worth considering.
If you really, honestly think you've got what it takes to be a writer - don't quit!  I read somewhere about an old guy who sat his bar exam to be a lawyer quite a few times before he passed.  Be realistic, but never say never.

1 comment:

Iris Flavia said...

Hope you succeed soon!
When I was turned down oh so often after studying I could tell myself, ok, all architects struggle extremly hard, many have to throw out guys they´ve been working with for years, it´s not that I´m not good enough.
But still... it did hurt.
Guess logic cannot prevent that.

So: Good luck!

And, yes. I sometimes wonder, too, if some guys really think their voice is qualified or if they´re paid to play the awkward looser?