Friday, July 9, 2010

Who wants to be a published author?

I know that the answer should be yes and in a way it is for me. At the same time, it isn't. I write my novel because I yearn to write it. I edit and polish it partly because that's just what you do and partly because it's easier for me to edit than face a brand new page. When this is done, I will send it off to agents because, again, it is just what you do. If it is accepted, due to all of new millenium's fears of being scammed by folk you can't see (very unlikely I'd get an Adelaide agent), I would probably be deeply sceptical. Once assured as to the agent's good intentions, I would wait and write and do my bit and be startled were it to find a publisher.

But what happens when it lands on a book shelf?

Well, I would try to promote it as, again, that's what a person ought to do. But how would I feel? I don't know. There'd be a flush of pride there but also one of loss. My novel, unpublished, is wholly mine. A few others read it, critters, but those critiquers aren't people I'll ever meet and so, in a strange way, can't wrest it from me. Having it on a shelf will remind me that my 'baby' is being looked at and read and that the readers are re-defining the characters and story in the light of their own experiences. Some lines might be unintentionally (for me at least) funny or funny lines boring. Excitable characters might be seen as stupid. Ones I designed to be stupid might be considered wise. I have lost control.

And to make it worse: what if I find something in the novel that I don't like? I no longer have the power to change it because it's already out there...

So I believe that seeing my book on the shelf would be a bitter-sweet experience. Similar (though hopefully not as intense as) seeing your child get accepted to a prestigious university over six hours away. A moment of pride and loss. I wonder, am I the only one who would feel this way?


  1. Writer's write, the very true cliche goes, and that is why I do it. A need.

    If I had a full length novel sitting in Borders, I would probably cringe thinking I could have done this or that better. I'm not so sure about a moment of pride and loss but I see your point and excellent analogy with a child departing.

  2. I've heard novelists compare writing a novel to giving birth to a child and the danger of postpartum depression that follows. Putting yourself "out there" reminds me of Sartre's belief that people can steal your world from you by their perception of you. A lot of that goes on in the comments section of blogs - i think they call them comment trolls or something.
    I've also heard writer's confess that they have a favorite book feeling that is like having a secret favorite child.

  3. It's strange the way it happens. No one would guess it would be like this until they've started writing for awhile.