Confusion in Writing

So I’ve been reading again. It gives me a break from arguing with my characters.  (In most other professions, talking to yourself is considered a sign that maybe you should seek professional aid, however for a writer it’s just an occupational hazard.)

Currently, I am in the middle of a Discworld book by Sir Terry Pratchett and greatly enjoying it. (This man is one of my heroes.) I am also rereading The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi, by William Scott Wilson.  I don’t think I made it all the way through the first time because I sat the book down somewhere and forgot where I put it. (I do this a lot. Especially with tea cups.)  And I have also been reading articles and blogs on publishing.  It is this last one that makes my head ache.

A book about a disc shaped world held up by elephants and traveling through space on the back of a giant turtle.  I understand.

The journey from a thirteen year old boy into one of the greatest sword fighters and painters of Japan, I get. (He fought most of his duels with wooden swords btw)

However, the great mystery that is publishing of the written word leaves me baffled. Do you seek out an agent?  Do you fight the ominous slush pile for a chance at editorial attention?  Do you go with a small publisher or aim higher?  Do you say the hell with it and do it yourself?

These are questions I don’t have the answers to yet.  All I do know is: that the most important thing you can do is write the absolute best possible book you can.  Which is also a puzzle of sorts.  Because very often, your absolute best book starts off as some kind of patchwork beast barely held together at the seems.

You can’t just send the beast out and expect people to see through to the greatness within.  You have to clean it up and ,for goodness sake, dress it in clothes.  Bare bones and flaps of skin do not impress, especially for people who have seen it all before.   You want your readers to glance at your prose and become smitten.  You want them so enamored by your words that when the next creature you bring into existence is trained and ready they will be eager to meet it as well.  That is the heart of writing.

Now how to get it where enthusiastic eyes might view it…now that is a different question.  Fortunately there are many answers. You just have to decide which one is best for each creation.  (Kind of like getting your Cinderella to the ball.  Do you send her in a pumpkin coach, make her walk, or hire a horse?)

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