Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Get To Write

Here's a secret no-one ever tells you about publishing:

Every square is square one.

You think you're on square four. Hell, you're sure you're on square four! Didn't you just pass square three, back there at the intersection of first publishing deal and seventh edit? You know you did. That corner has a Burger King with a missing K, so it looks like Burgering. Or you know. Maybe something ruder.

But as it turns out, publishing has a teleporter and a time travelling machine. You think you're on square four, but it has no qualms about zapping you right back to square one. Not even square one, really. You think square one looks bleak? Try square minus seventeen. Publishing has just taken away your publishing deal, stolen your manuscript, ransacked your house and raped your dog.

The dog thinks this might be square minus eleven million.

And I'm not about to argue with the dog, in all honesty. Sometimes, publishing is the bitterest, evilest thing ever. You think you're on firm ground, but you're not. Publishers close. Editors leave. Deals fall through. People go back on things they say.

And even when you've gotten to some healthy square, with your book out and everything, you've still got a million steps back lying in wait for you. Bad reviews. Poor sales. What you write isn't in vogue. What you write has fallen out of vogue. What you write lost vogue on the way to Burgering. Vogue called, it wants to know what the fook is up with your book?

By now you're crying and begging me not to talk about squares anymore, right?

But wait. Wait. Because I have another secret about publishing:

There are no squares.

And yeah, I know I just spent an age waffling about our four cornered pal. But that's only because publishing makes you think there are squares.

When actually, there aren't. If you score a publishing deal, you'll have that forever. It doesn't go away, just because the publisher closes or the Burger King raped your dog or whatever it was I was blathering about, earlier on. Even if your book never actually comes out, you did something miraculous that few human beings ever do:

You got a publishing deal.

And let's say the deal doesn't fall through. The publisher doesn't close. Your book comes out. Who cares about bad reviews?

Once, in your life, you published an actual book.

It's right there. It has a cover. Someone put your name on something, or in something.

There aren't squares enough in the world, for that. I'll have to go with circles, instead. I'm in circle eight hundred million, because someone published that first story of mine, in Lust At First Bite. And as you know, you can never go back to the beginning of a circle. There's no back to point one on a circle. Circles are endless and forever, and that's what writing is.

Because even if everything falls through and you don't get to where you want to be and nothing happens for you and bad reviews and bad comments and not in vogue or too this or too that...it doesn't matter.

I get to write. Every day, I get to write.


  1. Heck. Yes.

    ...that is all.

  2. Damn! Yes!

    My first sale never saw the light of day, because the publication folded up days before the edition it would appear in. But that milestone is still very important to me.

    I went on to sell the story elsewhere. Square one, square three, back to square one.

    I prefer no squares, now that you mention it.

    I'm still working on getting a good book deal. I still enjoy each time I get a short story published. Still building, still hoping, still trying.

    But most of all, still writing and loving every minute of it.

    Excellent post.

  3. Charlotte - Can I camp out in your brain and take notes for a couple days?

  4. LOL, you're so right, Charlotte. I've always compared the journey to being published to Dorothy's journey along the yellow-brick road to Oz. Except once you get past those gates (actually getting published) you discover you're back at the starting position and have to battle your way back to Oz all over again.

  5. Madeline- Hee!

    Craig- Thanks! And me too. No squares. Just building, just writing. Every story means something!

    Kathleen- If you can brave the forbidden forest and the harem of hungry men. And Burgering, of course!

    Leah- LOL. Can now just see myself-"Jesus. Not MORE flying monkeys."

  6. Charlotte,

    I've also had a publisher rape my dog. I feel your pain :-)

    Great post,


  7. Charlotte,

    You remember Alice in "Through the Looking Glass"? She starts out for a walk in the garden, heading along the path in the direction that looks like it will take her to the top of that little hill, from which she can get a view of where she's ended up. But whenever she heads for the hill, the path ends up dropping her back in front of the door she just exited.

    I think that sometimes publishing is like that.

    Wonderful post!


  8. Ashley- thanks! Also: we definitely need to starts a dog rape crisis centre.

    Lisabet- LOL! Is it disturbing that publishing is so much like trippy children's stories that two people mentioned them? And thanks!

    Jeremy- no. YOU are.


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