Monday, June 6, 2016

Failure

As an anniversary vacation trip, my husband and I attended the 30th Missoula Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. This is different from other Cons I've attended in that the focus is on writers and gamers. This will be a series of posts on what I learned from the professional panelists.

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This is not a short game. The only time you fail is when you stop trying. - J. A. Pitts

All of the authors on this panel have experienced "failure". They have been dropped by publishers, had editors with whom they couldn't work, and have experienced numerous rejections. They are still authors. Why? Because they didn't let any of that stop them.

You learn more by failing. - Peter Orullian

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I also attended a portion of Orullian's panel on beta-readers, and he tells a compelling story about his first book deal. (Any errors in this story are mine, so forgive me if I get any of the timeline wrong.) His agent had encouraged him to submit a ten-year old manuscript to a publisher. Orullian knew it was flawed, but time was of the essence, and he knew that IF he got the deal, surely the editor would allow him to make changes.

The editor did not. Orullian had to send out a flawed work, and Steve Diamond (of Elitist Book Reviews) went to work and pretty much pointed out everything that Orullian knew was wrong. They ended up colleagues, and Diamond is now a valued beta-reader. 

Orullian, in every panel, exuded a grounded and healthy way of dealing with critique, criticism, and failure. I have to say that he transformed the way I feel about beta-readers, critics, and editing.

Eventually, the editor was fired, and Orullian was allowed by Tor to release an author's definitive edition with the changes he had wanted. In between, though - he kept writing!

You can't fix something unless it exists. - Robin Hobb

You've probably all heard variants of this advice, but it bears repeating because it is vital. If you are avoiding the page, how will you ever get to the edits? And, yes. There will be edits. Hobb claimed in this panel, "I hate writing, I love re-writing". She said the last half of that quote with the purr of a lover. She meant it. She gets to dig in and really flesh everything out...and it shows, which you'll know if you've read any of her work.

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You will never have more free time to write than you do today. - Robin Hobb

She wrote on buses, at soccer games, and beside the bathtub in the evenings. Orullian gets up at 3:30 in the morning because he has a full-time job and children. Pitts said, "Treat it with respect; treat it like a job".
You will improve if you commit the time. It's like a muscle. - R. Orullian

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1 comment:

  1. This was where Patrick Rothfuss said, "write your book." Not a version of someone else's. "Write the book that only you can write." Scenes and characters and premises need to get on the page, even if you noodle through in your head as part of your process. At some point, it has to be put on the page. No amount of internal spinning will eliminate the need for review and edit.

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