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February 5, 2010
Posted at 9:45 am
 

Hiatus result

OK, the hiatus is over and the results are in. There is no easy way to say this, so I'll just lay it all out on the table and you can do what you want with it.

You were wrong. I'm not good enough to be published.

Of course I'm a philosopher, and since "good enough" is one of those subjective terms, I can't simply leave it blaming all of you for the fact that I couldn't sell a book.

And you'd bug me about it anyway, so I'll tell you the deal. Maybe it will help some other aspiring author.

The big deal in publishing nowadays is Voice, or Point Of View (POV.) What voice you write the story in is very important. When I was growing up, and reading things like The Wizard of Oz, and The Hardy Boys, and then later Azimov, L'Amour, Heinlein, Cussler and so on, I didn't even realize it, but I was being told a story. Most of that writing was in the omniscient voice, where the author knows everything, but the characters don't, and the author tells you the story. In that style of writing, the author can tell you what's inside each character's mind, and point out things that a character doesn't know, but which affect him or her.

Now I've always enjoyed that and, quite naturally, I think, that's the way I wrote when I started writing. I tell stories. I've always wanted to be a storyteller. I just didn't know it would be on the internet.

That style of storytelling is no longer in vogue.

Like the fashion industry, the publishing industry has decided that the omnisicent voice is like a pair of bell bottom pants. It's out of style.

Now, the in thing is for the author to use characters to show what is happening. That restricts the information an author provides to what each character can hear, see, feel, smell and taste. I'm told this "brings the reader into the story" and "does not insult the intelligence of the reader." An example of that is: Bob got out of bed and looked out at the bright morning sun with bloodshot eyes. Presumably, today's readers recognize instantly that Bob could not look out of bloodshot eyes, unless he has first looked in a mirror and seen that he has bloodshot eyes.

OK, so everything has to be shown to the reader by one or more of the characters in the book. But that's not all. The next hoop you must jump through is to avoid what is called "Head hopping." When you do that, you jump from one character's POV to another too often. That's not acceptable.

The example in this case is in the book I tried to sell, which was Mistrusting A Memory. If you read that book, you know the last roughly third of it is about the jury deliberating on the evidence of the case. A jury has twelve members (or characters) and since I couldn't figure out how to tell all of that from one character's POV (I foolishly thought that what each juror was thinking was important)the book was eventually rejected. "Too much head hopping going on there. The readers will get confused and bored."

I did, however, successfully rewrite the first two thirds of the book, to tell it all from one POV. They loved that part, even though I had to cut completely the viewpoint of the victim of the crime, who later murdered her assailant. Apparently the publisher didnt really care how she felt when she burned the guy alive.

If I sound a little jaded and sarcastic ... well, suffice it to say that I'm as impressed with the two publishers I "worked with" as they are with me.

But I'm glad I did it. I did learn some things, and I was able to make the writing in that book a lot tighter. I'm not going to replace the "free version" at SOL and my website with what I ended up with. I'm holding out hope that some day somebody will still want to publish that book, and I'll be able to give them a unique version.

On the other hand, when I get back to writing for the free market (that's you guys) I don't think you'll see all that much change in my style. That's because I'm still a storyteller, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

You don't either. I can tell that from the nice things you say to me about my writing. And I appreciate you folks, who encouraged me to try to get published, even though you guys are apparently pathetic, sad, unimaginative things, who aren't clever enough to realize that Bob didn't look in a mirror first, but was still able, in some magical way, to look out of bloodshot eyes. I prefer to think of you as old fashioned readers who have the attention span and patience to sit and listen while I tell you a story. I describe things and you visualize them in your imagination. You don't have to feel like you're actually in the story being burned alive, to have a good time.

So the upshot of all this is that I'll just go back to writing stories, and posting them for people to read free, because it's the storytelling I enjoy.

Now, one last thing, because I know what some of you are going to say. You're going to say "Fuck those two publshers. Send it to somebody else. There are lots of publishers."

Each time I send a book to a publisher, I can pretty much depend on having to spend two or three weeks responding to their suggestions. I spent two months going through the book, line by line, removing all suggestion of the author's voice, rephrasing sentences and paragraphs, and replacing discouraged words with other words. And almost all of the publishers who handle erotic literature are "startups" who have only existed in the last ten or so years. They all compete with each other, and so they all believe that this modern style of writing is the deal. They ignore the fact that best selling authors like John Grisham, Michael Crichton and J.K. Rowling break the rules and tell stories. Not that I'm comparing myself to those folks, except for the fact that they are storytellers too. I'm not cutting edge ... and I don't want to be cutting edge, in this case. It takes too much time for no real gain. I'd rather spend that time writing. Even though the writing is "substandard."<G>

I'm just going to be myself. You can take me or leave me.

And now, I think I'm going to go start something new, and see if I can still write.

Thanks for your encouragement. Thanks most of all for reading.

Bob