Musings on the Craft of Writing

►Your Vault is Your Hope

As I’ve said before, being a novel-writer is a lot like pushing Sisyphus’ stone.  We work for months or years on each draft, spend serious cash seeking help to perfect it, and then repeat that process until we believe that manuscript is perfect.  Most do this for the hope of becoming paid, full-time authors.

But intermittently, we writers are smacked with the reality that we’ve been digging in the mines for years… for nothing.  Playing the odds, the vast majority of us will either make a pittance via self-pubbing (<$500) or will be rejected by the major Houses/agents. Of course, the real writer keeps going in spite of that cold reality.  Writing has become our lives, and we would keep creating stories purely for the joy (and need).

However, that’s still bleak; we sincerely want out of our “jobs” and into the life of full-time writing. I think that there is some reasonable hope for us, and that it lies within the long-term game. If we keep creating novel after novel, improving our craft as we go, we can eventually break into the market.  But more importantly, once we get that one foot in the door, then everything that we have hitherto created becomes viable.  Marketability means that there’s a good reason to think that what you’re selling will be bought.  If you have one book with large scale, good reviews, then your name suddenly has currency.  Other books with your name on them now stand a far better chance.


Therefore, the only perspective that allows me to hope (without the delusion that pervades our industry) is to view all of my work as gold in a vault.  While this treasure is sitting here collecting dust, I can do nothing with it.  But once I can finally cash it in, it will not have been for naught.

Opine away,









8 responses

  1. Your post comes at an excellent time for me. I’m having a Sisyphus kind of day after receiving a critique on a story I thought was nearly as good as I could make it. The joy and horror of this particular critique is that it’s spot-on, and now I need to go axe one character, work another in a lot more, and generally upend and rearrange my entire story. Sigh. Here I go, up the hill again. Thanks for offering some much-needed long-term perspective!

    January 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm

  2. Spot on, Daniel. I’ve worked now with a number of writers who’ve given up completely after their first novel failed to hit on the net. It wasn’t that they weren’t talented, but that for one reason or another they couldn’t take the long view. I don’t think it’s possible to go on writing fictio and putting it up on the web unless one takes the long view you’re propounding here.

    January 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm

  3. Great words to live by. For now….

    January 20, 2014 at 7:45 pm

  4. Well said. But I’m not planning on cashing in my gold. Smaug has a hold of it and I’m content to simply look upon the heap underneath his fiery scales. 🙂

    January 20, 2014 at 10:19 pm

  5. Great post. Thanks, Daniel!

    January 21, 2014 at 3:26 am

  6. Indeed, Daniel. Indeed. I have a notebook of agencies I’ve queried, most of the ones polite enough to respond have given a gracious, “I like it, but no thanks.” There’s no point in giving up, because writing is our life. What we give to it, it will eventually reciprocate.

    April 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    • & the past year has put me on the fence wrt the Pubbing Houses (and Agents). I obviously do believe in paying for professional editing, and for making a final product be as good as possible, but I (currently) believe that the Houses are no longer a necessary evil. The (E-)Pubbing revolution has gained enough steam that we may be able to thrive without them.

      April 10, 2014 at 11:56 pm

  7. Pingback: ►Your Vault is Your Hope | Black Collar Cult

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