I've been writing since I was thirteen, so going on nine years now. Not that long, but I can say I have some experience under my belt. (Why do I use that expression? Since when have I worn a belt?)
I've always written with a love of fantasy, of super-powered characters, of different worlds and cultures, of things I can only see in the movie theater of my mind. I've always written with the hopes someone else will read my writing and love it as much as I did. I've always written with the intention of publishing.
At the very, very first, it seemed writing must be easy. If it's awesome in my head, how can it not be awesome on paper? Well, I quickly learned there was more to it than that. More to characters, to plotting, to earning and keeping a reader's attention. There was more to making a book readable than correct spelling and grammar. It took me a while to see how and where my books were not readable and, in a way, that the first loss of the magic of writing--the first time I realized I wasn't writing just for myself.
The next losses came when I realized it wasn't just readers I needed to impress, but publishers. Then I learned of agents. And query letters. And suddenly, I was writing less for myself than ever.
AM writing less for myself than ever.
Sometimes it feels like my books are little models getting ready for the catwalk. They're my vision still, yes. And I don't hate editing--that's not the problem. I'm not even sure what I hate--other than query letters themselves; don't even get me started!!!
It's just... writing suddenly seems unforgiving.
My book must be THIS long to be publishable, but THIS long is unpublishable too.
My book must follow such and such rules.
My query letter has to be like this, but not like this, and not like that either.
Let me tell you--it's not magical at all. It's BUSINESS. There we go. I've found what I strongly dislike. I hate business. Really do. It's cold and brutal and uncaring and unforgiving and the more I've learned of the business side of writing and the more they've become connected, the less I've enjoyed writing.
It's a sad fact I've known but never truly understood--to be a successful author, the author must embrace the BUSINESS side of writing. The total lack of help in marketing, the book cover you might hate and have no control over, the change to the title and all that nonsense in the name of BUSINESS.
I ALWAYS knew that but no one ever told me the business side of writing bleeds into it LONG before you get anywhere near publishing. Its poison stings when I'm writing for the agent and writing for the publisher in my mind. When I judge a story's value by its ability to be published and summarized in a query letter. When a book stopped being good because it's entertaining to me and because it has life I can feel in every bloody cell of my body, and started to suck because some fragment wasn't JUST right to be published.
What's worse--like a real smack in the face--is seeing so many books out there breaking all those same rules and getting published. I kept thinking the authors must not care or know. Now I'm thinking they know AND they don't care. They see the value of their book, they love it for what it is, know others will love it too, and don't sweat the small stuff. Their writing still has magic--magic their agents and publishers must see somehow.
I don't know what to do to get the magic back in mine. Writing a new idea and plotting a new idea and thinking of ways to make it better--even in the editing process--smells a bit like magic again. But whenever I think of submitting and query letters and that garbage, I really don't feel like writing anymore.
No happy ending to this post. It's been kind of cathartic writing this, but mostly I just want to crawl into a hole with my laptop and write my stories for the next fifty years. Alone. I really don't feel like I can write for anyone but me right now and not go crazy...