August 19, 2013

Writers need guidance too

Dear M,

Sometimes I feel lost. And lonely. And it is not only because the writing I do is lonely business. It certainly is, but the real reason is that I sometimes need someone to tell me, why don't you try that? or Here, let me help you with that. Not just anyone, though. Someone who really can help. I don't want it easy, but this feeling of being in the dark, groping my way forward (or backward, I have no idea) and sometimes finding a wall and sometimes walking without encountering anything... when it isn't depressing, it is devastating.

I wish someone would tell me, I know someone in the publishing field, let me introduce you to them, they can give you some guidance, maybe they can even get your work read by someone. Once, a friend told me that if I finish my book he would introduce me to someone who can introduce me to an editor in a very popular publishing house. I worked on my book with renewed energy, just hanging on to those words. A year later when I was ready, something seemed to have changed - for nothing came of it, no introduction was made. I finished my book, that was the only positive thing that had happened.

For my part, I think I am too proud to ask someone for help. I don't know - I don't see anyone who can help, so who do I ask? Well I did ask someone once, and all he said was, Yes of course, you can send your query to this publishing house and see what they say. Do you want their address?

Everyone expects you to know everything there is to know about writing. They think you know what to do, they think it is only a matter of time before you surprise them with a book or an award or something, and they wait. Eagerly and encouragingly.

You don't want to disappoint anyone, so you keep a straight face and pretend that you do know everything indeed. Yes, the book will be coming out soon. Oh, I am hard at work. Writing all the time, of course. They nod in vigorous excitement and support. When? When? When will the book be out?
Oh I don't know... maybe in a year or two, this publishing is a damn difficult thing.

And all the time, something deep inside has collapsed to the ground, and you pray with all your might that these people (and you too) will be alive when your book finally attains the shape of a book.

Who is the publisher? Some of the more knowledgeable people ask.
I am negotiating with a few of the good ones, you say. Unless you find a real good publisher, the book will not sell well, you see.

You sound as though you're interviewing the publisher for a book contract. As though, the publishers are lined up at your door, waiting to kiss your feet and make an offer for the book.

I didn't know this art of writing also involved the art of deception. Among other things.


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