Friday, June 10, 2011

Panic in the Streets

Writing under a deadline is great. In fact, the tighter the deadline, the clearer my thoughts. I adore that type of pressure writing.

Writing with a guarantee of being published is hell. And here’s the difference.

When I used to write for specific submissions, I was always writing for one person. The only one that mattered was the single editor who would say yes or no. I never really thought about anyone else who might come after that. It never mattered to me whether my story would be read by one or one thousand people. The finished product only had to be good enough for one person to be “accepted.” In this case, acceptance is always success.

That made failure so much easier. If an editor says “No!”, then that’s a failure. As a result, I have 2 choices:

1.      Blame the editor for being a moron.

2.      Reread/revise/edit my work before sending it out again.  

Mostly I did both at the same time. But in the end, it was only one individual who knew of my failure and that’s manageable.

Now I’m facing digital self-publishing. When submitted, my writing will be open to thousands of people. True, I won’t necessarily have thousands of readers, but I suppose with a little luck, it’s possible.

That means Failure (with a capital F!) in digital self-publishing is a form of public disgrace. It can come in lack of sales (most likely) or horrible reviews (possible) or horrible reviews based on grammar and mechanics (nightmare scenario).

Failure in this case is massive. There are no second chances.

And now, all this rambling brings me to what happened yesterday.

I’m editing a short piece and I see a typo: “starting” instead of “staring”. Yeah, so what? Simple error, right? Oh, except that which I’ve editted this same story maybe a dozen times over the past year. All those hours going over every word. Maybe more. And yet, I skipped over that damn mistake every time. Unbelievable.

What you smell is the pressure of human fallibility.

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