Why Your Writing is Special

Nothing tempts an editor like an invitation: "Would you mind looking this over, and giving your input?" It's like handing a kid a lollipop, or giving a reader a book. Conversely, nothing discourages an editor like disregarding his edits, or asserting that you knew better already. In a lot of jobs, we grant professional expertise. We don't tell the guy who's operating it how to move his crane (unless we want it to crash into our apartment complex), we don't lecture the chef of the four-star restaurant about his spice choice, and we don't stand up and tell the defendant how he could be doing better. In most instances, training and education brings the professional authority.

Writing and editing are different. Everyone (hopefully) learned to read and write at a young age. Almost everyone wants to write a book, the same amount of people want to edit something that will become famous, and everyone has opinions about what word goes best where. Being a professional writer or editor could seem like being a professional grocery bagger; not too different from the next guy in line.

What's a writer to do? In a market that's burgeoning and expanding like an irritated puffer fish, trying to succeed as a writer is like trying to wax an angry elephant. Not impossible—but very difficult, time consuming, and frankly, painful. Everyone is doing the same thing, and trying to make their work stand out; but so often, it doesn't. In a market that's full to the overflowing, it's hard to feel different.

But take heart. There is something different about you: You're the writer.

And you are the only you. You know what your life has been, and you can write about it in a way no one else can. You think in a way that can be refreshing to other people, because they haven't heard it before. This alone doesn't make you famous—there's also practice, natural aptitude, talent, writers block (lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of writers block), and hours and hours of frustration, trying, and hard work.

But don't lose hope. After all this is mastered, or perhaps just practiced, your writing still has something special. It has you.

What if it Rains

Setting up the full sound equipment for a choir and band to perform outside, for instance in a park, takes an extensive amount of effort. Between speakers, wires, and every small technical detail, by completion it's been several hours of labor, lots of sweating, and a good amount of tactician's effort—how things need to be positioned to sound the best, where they'll be out of the line of vision (but still effective), and the wires that need to be set and draped to avoid a rats nest of tangle. All of this, and what if it rains? You have to pack up and clear out quickly, to save the equipment. Even if the band only played for five minutes, rain doesn't make the process worthless—but it certainly feels that way.

Sometimes you spend a long time on a piece, working very hard and putting your best into it.  Then something goes wrong; someone doesn't like it and 'they' only have negative things to say about it.

That doesn't invalidate it. It is always worth it to write.

The Slow Build

I'm an impatient reader. After getting caught up in the story, I want action. The slow build—the long tedious process that takes time and development and careful plot planning—is hard for me. It's not because I have no taste; plenty of classics have slow plots that gradually build and  crescendo, then gently decline. The difference? The reader isn't at the mercy of the author; he is learning about the events at the same rate, and the author is just along for the ride. It's as if the two of you are watching the same play simultaneously; he is just transcribing the storyline. When the reader feels manipulated, and the author holds back information "just because," the slow build has been misused.

Write suspense into your story; use the slow build, the steady increase, the thrill of discovery—but don't gloat over him when you keep your reader in the dark. It is, after all, his choice to keep reading.