Writer At War

For Christmas I received the book THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS by James Scott Bell.  Fiction writing strategies, tactics, and exercises.  Mmmhmm.  We’ll see.

As a general rule, I avoid purchasing “how to” writing books, my theory being that those who can do and those who can’t supposedly teach.  And why should I line someone else’s pockets with my hard-earned money so they can tell me how to write fiction with no track record of doing it successfully themselves?

But since this book was a gift by a well-meaning writer friend, I’m glad to have it and have begun reading it.  The exercise on Page 13 says to write “down your honest reactions to the following statements:

“I decided that I would continue to write as long as I lived, even if I never sold one thing, because that was what I wanted out of my life.”

                                                –George Bernau

“Your reaction”

George is a lot like me.  Or a lot like I used to be.  For a long time I never cared if I sold my work.  But in the back of my mind I always expected that eventually I would.  I wrote for years before I sold anything.  Then I sold something else.  And then several years later, something else. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I like selling my work.  I like seeing it in print and sharing it.  I’m happy to receive the dribbles of money that come my way.  But money was never the driving force behind my writing.

However, there came a point in time when I looked at all the unsold manuscripts that lined my shelves and wondered why, if I wasn’t going to try to sell them, was I writing them?  No one else was seeing them.  Was I writing for my own enjoyment or what?

That’s when I seriously sat down and started sending out a manuscript I originally wrote in 1998 entitled A MONTH FROM MIAMI.  Samhain Publishing bought it and released it as an e-Book in 2008 and in print in 2009.

That encouraged me.  If I could fix and sell that old manuscript, could I fix and sell the others?  In between creating new work, I revise the old stuff.  I send them out because I want to sell them.  I think I’m at the point now where I’m getting closer and closer to more sales.  It’s become a matter of hitting the right editor with the right work at the right time.  So…good luck to me in doing that.

But at the same time, if I never sold another thing, would I keep writing?  Yes, of course, because if I give up, then assuredly I won’t sell anything else.  You have to keep writing and sending stuff out.  Just because one thing doesn’t sell, that doesn’t mean the next one won’t. 

No more writing guarantees no more sales.

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