Super Size My Writing

Steroids. That’s what they put in Tyson chicken. And antibiotics. And wash it all off with ammonia. Flash-frozen, shipped to Wal-Mart or McDonalds, flash-cooked, cut into little boot shapes, deep fried, stuffed in a box 20 for 5.99. Served with similarly treated potatoes and processed sugar-water. “Do you want to go Large?”

Halfway there, just buying the thing. It’s the strangest thing to see a morbidly obese man driving pelmell to a fast-food chop-shop with the terror of starvation on his face. So much food. So little substance. So much water weight.

Who wants his book to taste like that? I don’t. Who can avoid it?

I’ve never been published, so I’m shooting blind as a bat. I’m studying agents, studying markets, rewriting my books, advertising where I can. In all my studying, it feels (to me) the majority of the writing coming out by fresh and established writers alike is a kind of assembly-line serial writing.

I’m not grumbling. My opinion might be an exaggerated metaphor and little more. Should I go with big publishing? Fat chance I’ll make an impression on anyone. Should I go down an Indie specialized market? They’re inundated, struggling against the market (but who isn’t?), and sometimes even fighting to stay afloat.

I don’t think injecting my work with steroids to create a beefy, unnatural superchicken is the answer. It’s already been pumping iron for years.

Yet, reading the blogs of the keymasters and gatekeepers, I see agents/editors’ running commentary over queries and books that don’t make it: “If I see one more modern fantasy where a boy with magical powers goes to a school of magic, I’ll scream…” “God, where have all the female protags gone? I’m tired of the male angle.” “I publish Urban Fantasy, people. Not Urban Horror.”

If I cut my story to accommodate every comment/whine, I’d have a nondescript story about a no-nonsense girl fighting MMA in her free time and working on cars. Her boyfriend would be–wait for it–a sex-dripping werewolf and her ex would be a vain, self-centered vampire. Her magical powers would be burgeoning. She’d have no family. The evil creature would be misunderstood. Wait.

That’s 85% of the market. I don’t get it. “We’re looking for unique, new voices” turns into, “I want an incredibly specific, marketable, cut-out story that isn’t shallow.”

So, the conclusion I came to (and the one I consistently come to) is to write your own story. Go Vonnegut: write for one person. In fact, I might revisit this idea over and over throughout the upcoming years.

You want to write something all your own? Be ready to suffer for it. It’s worth it. You want to write something that will sell easy? Follow the guidelines. This does not go for autobiographical works (you know who I’m talking to).

Just to make myself clear–I love some of the fluff genre stuff. Jim Butcher’s still one of my favorite UF writers, and he’s about as McNugget as you can get, if you get my drift.

I’m just, I guess, not. And I don’t want to be. Where’s my place?



One thought on “Super Size My Writing

  1. “That’s 85% of the market. I don’t get it. ‘We’re looking for unique, new voices’ turns into, ‘I want an incredibly specific, marketable, cut-out story that isn’t shallow.'”

    You nailed it.

    I hope all of this rewriting you’ve been doing has been to improve the story and not shape it to fit a certain mold. I fear you’ll rewrite it into a story completely different from what you set out to write.

    You definitely need to write your own story. I think you’ll be more satisfied than writing to please or sell. You have to do (and write) what feels good to you, what brings you pleasure, what helps work out those DEMONS (see what I did there?).

    Although I have my own publishing dreams, I share your frustrations vicariously. I see your passion and I hate that some giant publisher hasn’t snatched you up yet and thrown tons of money at you so that you can concentrate full-time on what you love without the burden of bills and such.

    I wish it for you so, so much.

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