Go Big or Go Home

It’s been a trying couple of weeks here in Aspiring Authorland. After plodding along at a pretty regular clip on a novel and completing about 1/3 of the first draft, I submitted it to an editor and asked for some objective input on how it was going.

Needless to say, his eyes didn’t open wide with delight like Simon Cowell’s did a few weeks back when Susan Boyle opened her mouth to start singing. His feedback was to stop, go back to the beginning, and start over from scratch. As hard as that was to hear, I actually agreed with him.

But while he was evaluating the manuscript, I shot out of bed one night with a perfect idea for a short story. I finished the final draft last night. It’s called “Animal Control” and it’s beautiful. Really. I showed it to this same editor, worked with him briefly on it, and submitted it this morning to “The New Yorker.” As crazy as this sounds, I think it actually has a shot at being considered for publication there, or I wouldn’t have sent it in. I’ll post an update here once I hear back from them.

What did I learn from all of this?

  • Go Big or Go Home

Write what you love. I was writing a formulaic novel because I had been reading agent blogs, editor blogs, publisher blogs and the like for months, and thought that if I could just piece together something that made sense and had a semi-interesting hook, it would sell. The problem with this approach? My heart wasn’t that into it.

The exact opposite happened with the short story. It appeared one night, fully formed, demanding to be written. I will probably not make much, if any, money off of it. But it’s pretty damn good. It’s heart is in the right place, because I put all of myself into it.

5 Comments Go Big or Go Home

  1. Philangelus

    Thank you. I’ve been feeling this way myself lately but the agent/editor blogs really do hammer on the “write what sells” angle.

  2. thelittlefluffycat

    My prime beta and I have a saying, “take what the story fairy brings and be grateful, or she won’t come back”. The ones that come when you don’t expect them are always a huge writing high, lol — what a gift, after your struggles!

  3. Other Lisa

    Congratulations, and I will think good thoughts about your placing the story!

    As to the larger topic…boy…all I know is that every time I’ve tried to do something “commercial,” my brain has ended up weirdizing it. And the last weirdized project was the one that got me an agent.

    That doesn’t mean abandoning all commercial considerations – I definitely had to throw out a lot of the less disciplined elements as I went through the revision process to sign with this person. But as to the essential message here, I couldn’t agree more. If you don’t have some real passion and vision about what you’re doing, what’s the point?

  4. Annie Wicking

    Good luck with your writing, David. Just keep the faith in what you are doing and take it one step at a time and whatever you do don’t rush in where Angels fer to tread.

    Best wishes,

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