f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: The Will to Publish

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

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Will to Publish

Many of you have expressed concern for my mental health after the last few posts. Honestly, I’m not nearing melt down. I self-medicate with 70% Valrhona and the adrenaline rush of tongue-lashing the intern.

She’s gone for the day now, though, so I guess I’ll hunker in for one more mild rant.

Just like the “will to power” hasn’t turned out so well for us, neither has what I’d like to call “the will to publish.” Granted you’re less likely to end up ruled by a despot in a kooky hat with the “will to publish,” but the possible ramifications to your writing are dire.

  • The will to publish means spending more time searching for a formula for fiction, an executable equation, than practicing the creation of a beating heart in a single one of your characters.
  • The will to publish means rejecting rejection letters.
  • The will to publish leads to stalking of editors at writing conferences.
  • The will to publish means submitting completely inappropriate proposals (poetry for instance) to whomever seems to have a fax line or email address at a publisher (whether they publish poetry or not).
  • The will to publish means esteeming your own work, rather than dedicating yourself to sussing out its flaws.
  • The will to publish often means you don’t read. Or offer to critique.
  • The will to publish, in Christian circles, is sometimes mistaken for the leading of the Holy Spirit in terms of which publisher NEEDS to see your proposal.
  • The will to publish finishes Bird By Bird and is contented that they’re far down the right path.
  • The will to publish finds little joy or wonder in books.
Frankly, we all have a little bit of it in us. I didn’t get published accidentally. My editor did not creep into my house during one of my luxurious nightly bubble-baths and email himself my manuscript. I submitted the stupid thing.

There’s a sense of perspective, though, that’s sometimes lost in the desperate race to see our words on the printed page. Our industry does much to fuel that race. I hope we can also do much to offer perspective. You are God’s children, creators made in His image. What you put to paper is a splinter of what it took for Him to breathe us into being. There is you comfort, your joy. A bound book is its reward, a testament to many things, but the writing is of first importance. It’s where we can meet God, if we can suppress the will to publish long enough to hear Him in the echo of clattering keys or the scratch of a pen.

“Let there be light.”

And there was light.