February 13, 2014

Nothing Short of Perfect

Dear M,

Most of us dream of the day when we can stop working for others and be our own masters. For writers who take writing seriously enough, it more or less means becoming a full-time writer. Every time our boss seems disappointed with us, we wish we could put in our papers, wave farewell and sit at home, writing.

We dream of people asking us, What are you working on now?
Oh I am working on my dream project, something that has been on my mind for a very long time... I have been researching on this for one-hundred-and-twenty-seven years...

Then we write knowledgeable articles on how a writer can develop discipline: I think discipline is necessary for a writer. Take me, for instance. I get up at five and write for two hours, then I read the newspaper and attend to the house and my family, from nine I again write non-stop for four hours. In the afternoon I take a nap, I read for two and a half hours, and take an evening walk. The fresh air inspires me to write new twists in my story. Then I spend an hour attending to fan emails. After dinner I write again for one hour, watch TV with the family and go to bed...

That felt good, didn't it?

In the meantime, we are still pushing against the odds, looking up heavenward and seeing the dream amidst the clouds, mocking us...

Getting published is like having your appraisal (yeah, I might have said this before, I can't get that feeling out of my mind!). It is not enough that you perform well in the organization, it is also important that others don't perform as well as you - it is a silly, comparative grading system. It is not enough that you write great stuff, it is also important that none of the other new authors write anything significant, so that the publisher throws everything out and looks at your MS alone.

So our MS has to be nothing short of perfect. Our boss isn't going to think, oh s/he has put in so much effort into this, let me be kind. He is going to mercilessly sift through our work, find flaws and grade you against the better performers (and send you polite and apologetic rejection slips).


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