Today I read a really sucky book.
As a writer, just that very fact is truly upsetting. More upsetting that most. Because we try really, really hard to write great books. We spend our lives toiling to create the prefect masterpiece.
We spend months, often years, writing and rewriting our books. We have so many computer files regarding our modest 80,000 word novel, that we can’t keep them straight anymore. We have whole files where we’ve explored alternate plot lines just for the sheer hell of it…cause it’s fun. We go to writers conferences and learn about the “First 500 Words” rule (FYI, a literary agent will only give you up to 500 words to hook them. If you can’t by then, you’re out of there). And they scare us into buying their book on writing the first 500 words, and we pore over it like it was a canonical text that contained the secret to eternal life.
We sign up for writers advice e-mail lists, and each week read articles on how to get published, how to get an agent, and that we need to buy another book regarding the First 500 Words, because the author has updated it, and is now offering a course on how to get an agent for the exclusive members only price of $350. We consider taking the course, but in the end just listen to the teaser podcast.
We sit in writers groups and have them critique our scenes. We send our manuscript to beta readers, who love it. We send it to editors, who love it, and give us a sneak peek at what needs to be polished up, and offer to do for a fortune.
We do this for months, and then we realize one day that after all of this, we have really crafted a good product. And then comes the day when we send it off to agents.
And we get a whole lot of rejection letters. “It’s good, but not great.”
So, we go back to the drawing board, attempting to find out the difference between “good” and “great.” And, for the next several years, we tinker with it on and off. We may even do a complete rewrite.
And, after all of this–
We read a really sucky book. How in the living hell did this manuscript slip through the cracks? When I’m trying so hard to get my hard fought for manuscript noticed, why on earth, did an entire army of publishing professionals, decide that this really bad book was worth the gamble? It’s horrible. Predictable. The writing is bland. The plot is thin, and only marginally believable. The characters are pretty much the same in all his books.
The dude even recycled names from his previous books. (I’m guessing that’s supposed to be what in the movie business they call “Easter eggs.” But, in written form it just breaks the fourth wall.)
I just wonder how all of these publishing people read this manuscript, and every one of them salivated over it, going, “Yes. This one is worth getting behind. This one is one we want to invest in.”
And how did his make it through the gates, and mine can’t? What the hell?
The worst part of it is, that this really sucky book got picked up to be a movie. A really sappy straight to DVD movie. But a movie nonetheless. (I won’t tell you anything more about the movie or book because one day I might become a wildly successful author, and meet the author of this really sucky book, and I will have to pretend I liked his work, and then he might be like, “Really? I wouldn’t be able to tell after that scathing blog post you wrote.” Riiiigght.)
In all honesty, once I get past the jealousy, I have to admit, that it actually encourages me. Once I calm down, I realize that maybe I’m trying too hard. Maybe everything I need to make it, is already there. If I’d just relax, and do the things I’ve already tried to so hard to learn, success is just at my fingertips.
I’ve already ghostwritten tons of books for online publishers. I know how to write a book and write it well. I just need to write one for myself now, and not try so hard.
Because in all honesty, it’s not really that hard.