Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thick Skin

Whew! That round's over. I've completed the requested revisions regarding point of view in my second novel. I've even managed to add around one thousand words to the current work in progress. All in all, a rather productive week. Provided my patience holds out, I might actually come up with something publish-worthy.

I know. I know. I talk a lot about patience, a virtue much desired but especially difficult for me to master. When my children were very young, they heard about patience. "Patience is a virtue," I'd chide each time they tried to stomp their little feet or asked "Are we there yet?" Too bad I really wasn't practicing what I preached.

Big Dawg preaches. She does a far better job than I do. She points backwards to illustrate her point. When I finished the first novel, I thought any agent would read the first fifty pages, begin to drool in that eager-agent way, and voila! Within the year, a publishing contract would be mine. I suppose most first-time novelists feel the same way. From the moment the words 'The End' appear on a manuscript, each of us find it difficult to believe that what we have before us isn't the great American novel we all want to write. Or maybe the best Bristish, French, German, etc. novel ever published. Ninety-eight percent of us are wrong.

What really rests in that envelope being mailed to a prospective agent is promise. That's it, with maybe a touch of possibility. Nothing more. Heinlein once said that only about one percent of all those people who wistfully announce they're going to write a novel actually finish one, the envelope holds promise that there is a writer in there somewhere. The possibility that the writer might be published lies there, too. The characteristic that separates the wannabe writer from the published author is the patience and perserverance to see the process through to the bitter end.

Patience is important, but another component must be added, a physical component. Good skin. How so, you ask? The skin of that wannabe writer must be thick. The wannabe must be able to take criticism on the chin without flinching. Bravely hiding his/her tears, the wannabe must be able to delete that beautiful passage that a crit partner thinks distracting. He/she must be able to add, substract, or change the appearance of their manuscript without woeful gnashing of teeth. If the crit partner or writing group feels that some element of the story deviates from the plotline, Wannabe must change that element without quarreling.

Crit partners and writing groups represent the reading public. What's more, they represent the educated reading public, the people who know what it takes to make a good book. Wannabe wants to be read. If any element of the story causes someone to put the book down, the desire to be read will never be fulfilled.


. said...

Great points...where have I heard them before? ;-D

And, you're right. If we don't have patience while we persevere, then we destroy our opportunities, many times without realizing it.

Finding a writing group that both wants you to succeed and cares about you enough to tell you when it's not good enough is hard. Took me years. But having one that fits the bill is a huge advantage.

Nothing beats the Three P's: Perseverence, Patience, and Pretty Thick Skin. You have the first and the last, and you're really improving on the second. You are. I swear it. LOL.


WKEverhart said...

Thanks, Gini. A compliment like that goes a long way for an old gal who spends her days and nights trying hard to become better at writing. I hope those three virtues are supported by a little talent.:D I could perservere, exercise patience, and cultivate thick skin all day long, but with no talent...oops there I go again.