Thoughts on Writing and Publishing

Back in college I met a guy named Ricky. It’s time to kick myself because I can’t remember his last name; but I remember talking to him about many things, especially about fiction and the kinds of writing we like. One thing he said that stood out to me was, “I think there’s a place for that kind of writing, too.”

Robert Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, and Isaac...

Robert Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, and Isaac Asimov, Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1944. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was in reference to my comments about I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. I enjoyed the movie because it was more character-oriented. There’s plenty to like in the book too, if you want to explore philosophic questions about robotics and other scientific ideas. The book isn’t about character.

I’ve thought about what Rick said and I agree. It goes beyond that, however. As much as I want to publish something with a big house, I find many of the contemporary standards stifling to the creative process. Don’t get me wrong; subjecting your writing to peer review, especially when reviewed by people with knowledge of the publishing industry, is a great way to improve your skill. I want everything I write, even these posts, to be the best I can do. Drafts get posted, but I spend time revising them for a while, too.

Publishers have their reasons for raising the bar so high. Their editors have to sort through hundreds, perhaps thousands, of manuscripts. Many people want to get into the writing game these days. Editors simply do not have the time to read them all. And the publishers are the ones footing the bill. So they have to resort to drastic measures to eliminate as many manuscripts as possible from their lists.

Good writing will sometimes get past them. Just because they don’t publish something doesn’t mean people won’t read it. There are some literary elitists who will insist they won’t read it for things I would consider minor. I have read enough contemporary novels that do what we are told not to do, on the first page, too. Especially in science fiction; the genre practically requires a little exposition. Large info-dumps of more than a sentence or two at time do get tedious and boring; try not to dwell on it, impart only what the reader needs to know and move on. I’m still working on my tendency to info-dump.

This is why I hope that self-publishing can change the future of the industry. Because, while many writers churn out very low quality work, others have something interesting to say, engaging stories to tell, inspiring poetry to share. “Indie writer” is not synonymous with “bad writer.” Neither is “unpublished” writer.

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Writing and Publishing

  1. I’d agree, indie writer isn’t synonymous with bad writer. But – and I include me in this – indie writers get nowhere near the amount of editing and constructive criticism that published writers get, and it does show.

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