Many of you know that my job as an Editorial Services Associate at iUniverse came to an end recently. The company got sold and is moving from Nebraska to Bloomington, IN. It has been a horrific experience, but after all the pain and angst, I’m learning some valuable lessons. Sometimes that’s the only thing you can do from a painful experience–thank God for the lessons and move on. So I begin a new job next Monday.
One thing I couldn’t help noticing at iUniverse was the delusional quality of most of the authors. It was a self-publishing firm, so we got books that couldn’t be sold anywhere else. You just couldn’t help noticing how many authors sent in books they hadn’t even bothered to proofread–full of errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Most of the books were not interesting–they were about arcane, esoteric subjects like “my bout with cancer,” “my grandmother’s adventures in Poland,” or “how I found God.” The fiction was worse–rambling stories told off the cuff. Genre fantasies, romances, and mysteries with absolutely no idea of the conventions of those genres. You had to wonder if these authors had ever even read a book in their genres before.
And yet these authors all had such high hopes and dreams. They thought it was so easy. Their questions and comments would range from “How many copies will I be able to sell?” to “I think people in Hollywood will be interested in my book–make it into a movie!” When you tried to inject a note of reality, like “your book needs editing,” they didn’t have the money, it would take too long, or the editors wouldn’t understand the very special thing they were trying to say. The editors might try to *gasp* change their nonexistent style!
This made me look at my current writing groups–women I like, but who have been meeting literally for years but getting no writing done. Writers who talk about writing romance, but hardly read it, and won’t do what it takes to sell–that is, write seriously, give and get rigorous critiques, and mold their “books of the heart” to genre requirements. No one wants to face the fact that to make it in the romance field, a writer has to be able to turn out two books a year, come rain or come shine. And as soon as the last book is out, everybody will be putting the pressure on–“Yeah, real nice, but what are you doing lately?”
Wannabees also don’t want to face the fact that writing doesn’t pay well. Why should it, with so many people willing to write for free? It’s been said, and rightly so, “Lightning can strike, and you can make a fortune by writing fiction. But few can make a living at it.”
Of course, this brings us to me. I couldn’t help noticing that I’ve been doing the very same thing! Going to the meetings and talking a good game, all the while steeped in denial and delusion. No more!
I don’t WANT to turn out two romances a year. I can hardly bring myself to even read romance novels anymore, certainly not for pleasure. So I’m going to let some memberships lapse this year. I’m going to quit giving people false encouragement. I’m going to quit searching everyplace for THE SECRET that will make writing easier.
IF I write at all, it will be by myself, getting back to why I began writing in the first place–to have something interesting to think about. That was really why I began writing. But somewhere along the way, I got sucked up into the delusional wannabee frame of mind. And my denial ends here.