I've been writing seriously for just over a year. I started with a novel and have branched into short stories. I've just submitted my second short story to a magazine. From what I've read, the difference between a professional writer and an amateur is the length of a stamp. I've also read that if you can survive enough rejections you will eventually get published because you will learn to persevere and improve your work.
My thought is to get several short stories finished to the point that I'm satisfied with them, then just send them all out again and again until someone bites. They might not be the quality of OSC or any published writer, but if I never submit my work, I'll never get published. But then, I've never read OSC's first short story. Something I've written might be close to that quality.
I think that I have a better chance by finishing something and submitting it, rather than keeping it hidden on my computer and subjecting it to endless editing and tinkering while I never send it out and risk rejection.
I'd say that "professionals" are those who have a leg up on "amateurs"---but that in terms of the quality of work, there isn't much difference.
"Professionals" have "track records" and "agents" and are "known" to the "editors" who do the buying. Their manuscripts get kidglove treatment and quick turnarounds.
"Amateurs" get their manuscripts dumped into the "slush pile" for months at a time, where maybe someday the "editor" or "reader" will dig throug it and dig one out and maybe buy it, and then convert the "amateur" into a "professional."
It seems to be getting harder to break through---for instance, last time I looked, most big-name markets for a novel won't look at anything unless it comes through an agent---and there's the theory that you can't break through at all if you don't play the crooked game and submit your stuff.
Y'know, I've read stories of editors who've found something in writers and their hopeless manuscripts, who've guided them from "amateur" to "professional" and made them published writers. But it never happened with me. Either nobody noticed my talent---or there was nothing to find. And either conclusion is vastly depressing.
I'll carry on---it's a habit I can't break now---but I think now I'll view even success with suspicion.
From everything I've read, the days of an editor who will nurture a writer into becoming a "polished" writer are long over. I've been very frustrated with a lot of the books I've read in the last few years, books filled with typos, wrong words, and other things that show a serious LACK of editing! And then the JUNK that makes it into print, into the library, into the bookstore. . .ARGH!!!!!!! My stories are a LOT better than those, and that isn't just my opinion. I've had probably 10 readers go through at least part of my novel now, and in nearly every case, they say it's a good read. Each has different comments to make about it, but overall, a "good read" and with few typos, wrong word choices, etc. I'm still in the "getting ready to submit queries" stage - envelopes prepared, synopsis as tight as I can get it, first three chapters polished, but I'm waiting for one more review of the first three chapters before I have a go at agents again. I wish I could write short stories that satisfied me - I'd sure try that route if I could, but I seem to be a novelist. Now, if I can just get an agent and a publisher to agree with me!!
Um, I was responding to Robert's comment about viewing it with suspicion. I'm not sure how my comment would relate to your "Rinse lather, repeat" suggestion. I guess I'm seeing a soapy horse somewhere in this picture.
Anyway, my point was that getting to where you want to be as a writer takes real work, even if you're really talented.
Pay no attention to me on that. I'm just bitter because I've "lathered, rinsed, repeated" for over thirty years. The original post just punched one of my "rant" buttons. Some of you might have better "luck" than I've had---but the "luck" might be luck, or it might be more talent or better-developed skills.
Posts: 7782 | Registered: Aug 2005
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It's probably the skill development. I don't know what you've done over the past thirty years, but if it hasn't worked then you need to try something different, maybe radically different. If you still have the passion after thirty years of spinning your wheels, I can't imagine you'll ever give up. The question is what to do different.
I'd be willing to look at something short (2000 words maybe) and offer my suggestions on how to take it to the next level.
Well, my last submitted piece, stuck-in-neutral after two submissions-and-rejections, is 2500 words long. I'll toss it into an e-mail and send it along. Thanks in advance. I think I'll reread it, too, and compile my own list of my literary sins...
Posts: 7782 | Registered: Aug 2005
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I'll take a look. I went through a radical revision of my writing a few years ago. I decided to really analyze some writers whose work I liked and whose books sold in the wildly successful ranges to vast audiences.
Now I'm that I've figured out how they're doing it, I'm trying to learn to utilize those same techniques.
I can try to see if anything fits in what I see you doing.