Monday, January 25, 2010

On The Job Training...

So today I had kind of a shock...a good one...a Google alert pointed me to a Publisher's Weekly article listing upcoming Spring 2010 fiction/first novels -- one book per publisher -- and ROCK PAPER TIGER was the pick under Soho. I don't know if this is any kind of big deal or not, but it felt a little...weird.

I realized that for all the years I've been writing and pursuing a creative career, I've never actually thought much about what it would feel like to have some small success. I'm still not sure what I feel, to be honest (and it's too early to be making pronouncements about "success" in any case). But I seem to be spending a lot of time reflecting on writing as a career and what it means to be an author, on how I'm handling it and what I might do better.

Writers talk a lot about the passion they have for their work. I'm not sure if passion is what drives me. Passion implies an excitement, a thrill, and though I'll hit stretches when everything flows and I'm feeling some of that, I can't count on passion to get me through an entire novel. Novels are, you know, long. Very very long. And they have to be rewritten a lot. And when you sell them, there's even more work involved.

What I count on instead is a certain pride in craft, consistency and the small amount of discipline that I possess. And patience. Patience that I'm going to be able to solve the next problem in front of me. Patience to not get too freaked out when it isn't coming or it's coming really slowly. The importance of patience is something I'm just now figuring out.

So what does this have to do with my odd reaction about having my book featured in a PW article? (which though hard to define, I'm guessing might have something to do with shyness, embarrassment, a fear of exposure...)

I think, maybe, this is connected to my desire to do a good job. Because at a certain point, namely, the point where people are paying you for your work, it is a job, not just a passion. And right now, one of the things I'm feeling is that I'm not working hard enough at improving my skills, at doing a better job.

I need to read more good books, books that can teach me something about craft. I don't mean books about the craft of writing, but books that illustrate it. I want to read great stories, beautiful language, rounded, developed characters.

Suggestions, anyone?

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