Once again, my good friend and fellow writer, Mary Deal, comes through with another great article. This particular one is important to an aspiring writer because it speaks to the nexus between writing what strikes an author’s passion, and writing what the publishing world can sell. This can be a bitter pill for new writers to swallow. I think every writer follows his heart first and writes what comes from deep within the well of his passion, emotion, and life experience. But then the cold, sometimes cruel world of publishing reality settles in. What strikes the author’s fancy may not even merit a yawn from an editor. So what is a passionate writer to do? Read Mary’s article for some advice. Of course, visit her website, too, for more great articles and writing tips: Write Any Genre.
A False Sense of Value
by Mary Deal
When we writers select a topic on which to expound, chances are, we choose that topic because of its emotional impact on ourselves. We feel something strongly and want to let the world know our opinion. If we felt nothing, what’s to write?
Once the essay or story is finished and we’re feeling good about having gotten our brainstorm on paper, the next step is to decide if what we’ve written is important enough to send out to get published. Or have we simply committed a lot of weak personal opinion and gibberish to paper?
If we thought about the value of our topic before we wrote, we may write nothing. It’s the emotional value of a topic that rouses our muses; that makes us feel we have something to say.
With great certainty, a topic of little interest to the public, but which sparked something in us, will get rejected, unless we can turn the article or story into a spectacular piece of prose. If lackluster but you still think it shows promise, only after submission might such a piece connect with an editor who just might be able to fit it in or ask for a rewrite first. Editors must also feel your enthusiasm through your writing. If not, the many rounds of submissions aren’t worth it.
What a writer must do is to make certain the topic they choose has some value for the reading public, and fit a market. Just because we feel a lot of emotion for something doesn’t mean the reading public will feel the same.
Choosing a topic we feel emotionally charged about is a natural priority in selecting what to write. Just as important: We must ask ourselves if we’re the only person, or among the few, who feel that way. Emotions in writing are necessary, but they can also lead us astray. It’s quite possible to create a spectacular article or story out of a topic few care about. The quality of the writing will be what makes a dull topic come alive. It’s easier to choose a topic that’s both something we feel charged about and which the reading public would find of interest.
Emotions can give us a false sense of value, leading us to think because we’re excited about something others will be too. Unless we’re excited about a topic that has a specific market, our prose could end up on the endless wheel of multiple submissions and rejections. If that happens, the only way to save the piece is to rewrite again and again and make it exciting or exacting. Or simply put the piece aside until the muse provides a way to make it more desirable. Move on to another project.