Why is it a race to as many books as possible? Why isn’t it a race to the best books possible?
(I mean, I know why: money. We need it to survive. This is just a general spewing of thoughts…)
This is something I am struggling with, and I want to understand and accept, and the best way for me to do that is to just kinda write through it.
I’m not delusional: I know I’m not writing literature here. I’m producing genre fiction (which can be literary, mine just isn’t), largely without any kind of team or editor, in my own bubble where my tastes and subjectiveness are skewed, and my aim is the entertainment and joy of others, not necessarily deep thought or world-shattering themes. But I’m still trying to write good books.
So, when I see the suggestion to not worry about the prose, I just feel so…bad.
Maybe it’s only a warning to perfectionists. Don’t worry about the prose so much that you never finish anything. There’s always something else to tweak, but you do eventually have to say “good enough” and put it out in the world. That’s great advice and especially necessary for artsy-fartsy types with anxiety (which, I’d reckon, is the majority of us). But if that were the original intention, it seems to have been disseminated into “don’t worry about the prose at all.”
And I just think this is such a mistake. You should worry about the prose–that’s writing, my dudes. Some people like to distinguish between storytellers and writers, but if you’re going to author a novel and ask people to pay for it and put it out there with all the other novels, effectively setting a standard for all of us, shouldn’t you strive to be both? I’m not saying we all have to balance the two skills equally or in the same ways, but dismissing the writing part bums me out, and I think it sorta affects the market in a not-so-great way. Like, you know how attention spans have been shortened by the prevalence of the six second video (RIP Vine) and the endless scroll and the 2x speed button? Yeah, well, extrapolate from that…
And I guess I’m just as guilty. I have crazy big blind spots, I shrug and say “that’s fine,” I’m planning to rapid release my next series and trying to vomit out as many words as possible to get it done “on time,” and I’ve never even tried querying an agent to see if I’m even good enough to choose to not be published by OldTimeyDude & NewYorkLondon! But I do think readers deserve better than zero edits on a first draft that instead gets run through an editor for typos and grammar. And if the argument is that the editor is doing a lot more work than that to improve a first draft for publishing, it sounds to me like they’re a cowriter. And maybe they should both at least put in a second pass for the love of the words.
But maybe it doesn’t matter how I feel. (I mean, definitely not, honestly, it matters how readers feel.) Maybe I sound like I’m gatekeeping writing, that producing books should be reserved only for those of us who truly love it and agonize over every word–I’m really not trying to, but I also don’t know why you’d want to write all day if you didn’t love it. It just makes me sad to think the market it being glutted with stories that were shucked out as fast as possible with very little art injected into them by design. It’s the very thing that makes self publishing be looked down upon. And I know it’s not really our job to make other people think highly of us when it comes right down to it: there are loads of people who will always consider anything not put out by OldTimeyDude & NewYorkLondon Publishing to be garbage, and that’s fine, it’s not for them, they’re missing out. But we all hold at least a little responsibility to be our own personal best. Or at least our own personal consistently-striving-to-be-a-little-better.