f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Bad News Awaits...

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Bad News Awaits...

You’ll come to learn that there are a few core beliefs you need to share with me should we end up working together as editor/author. Over time I’ll spell these out fully in what will become our writer’s creed, but today I want to tackle at least two.

Foundational Truth #4 – Sean Connery is the only James Bond worth mentioning. This isn’t up for debate.


Foundational Truth #1 – Writers are the sole arbitrator of what a novel is trying to say. Readers are the sole arbitrator of what the novel actually says.

This may sound like a platitude, but it is a core belief I hold regardless of the three hats I wear: editor, author, reader. You must understand this for us to be able to work together. And for some writers the hard part isn’t the first sentence—it’s the second.

People, in the heart of hearts, are mostly delusional. We have an uncanny knack of lying to ourselves and finely honed abilities to rationalize or persuade ourselves of almost anything. (i.e. see American Idol on Fox). Therefore we can write something, read it to ourselves and think it the most wonderful thing ever written, and completely fail to understand why nobody else agrees.

As a writer you are allowed ONLY to try and say something. I’m trying right now to communicate what will become a salient point about receiving criticism. Am I succeeding? Sure, why not? How do I know? I don’t. I don’t know at all until I talk to one of you reading out there.

This is why critique and commentary and criticism are so important. It came up in our recent interviews that there is a dearth of outside and honest criticism in our industry and I truly feel we pay the price for this. Our emperor is without clothes and there really isn’t anybody around willing to point and laugh at us for prancing about butt-nekid.

So, in your own writing, please seek out critique and criticism. And leave your friends out of it if you can, unless you’re both seasoned pros. Consider writing and reading as a business. You don’t want place a friend in an awkward spot of not liking your work. It’s far better to get a total stranger (me for instance) who you can latter curse at under your breath (or aloud) when I come back with bad news.

Because I will.

We’ve gotten to know each other over the past weeks and months and I want to take the mask off now and show my true face. I’m basically the Grim Reaper. Getting published is very, very, very, very, very hard and most likely what I’m going to give you is bad news.

I will try to do it kindly. I will try to be Neil Gaiman’s version of Death and not Ingmar Bergman’s. If I do send you back less than thrilling news, you have two valid ways of responding.

1. Curse me. Hate me. Call me a moron and say I’m wrong.
2. Curse me. Hate me. Call me a moron and see if I’m wrong.

When I say readers determine what your book says, I really mean that. It’s multiple. That’s why any book goes through a number of reviews and reads before it can even be considered for publication. If we get four people to read a book and one likes it and four don’t, guess what happens?

I am just one man. I can be wrong. I may be right though and you need to consider that.

And that’s the kind of post you get written by a man staring out a window at a bleak landscape of falling snow knowing his commute awaits.

I leave you with this.

Love bites. Love bleeds. It’s bringing to me knees. Def Leppard

I love you all. But I need to be cruel to be kind.