“Fiction submissions should have no discernible genre. While the fiction editor enjoys writing that plays with form & conventions, and is eagerly awaiting writing that sparkles with surprise, it is widely known that each time a vampire story is written, somewhere an orphan dies. Shame on you.”
– Ampersand Review Submission Guidelines, as quoted from Ampersand Books’ website
This, my aspiring author friends, this is the ray of sunlight I’ve been waiting to see in perusing the publishing world online to find who to query next. Hands-down the best submission requirement I’ve yet to find—bravo to them for lauding originality when everyone else seems to want the next Stephanie Meyer…
[Disclaimer: I’m in a mood, so this post may sound cynical or overly rationalizing in the way diva amateur writers do so well. Would I be saying any of it if I had an offer for publication and thousands of blog followers clamoring for their signed copies? Yeah, probably not. Fickle monkey.]
The fact is, reading used to be a joy. Writing used to be a joy. And then I entered the literary cyberworld. Suddenly, I was blogging, and stalking my WordPress dashboard to see how many hits I got, hooking the Monkey up with its own Twitter account and Facebook page, straying from my simple, original purpose of just writing for writing’s sake to instead wax philosophical and egotistical on my writer’s journey toward publication (as I’m totally doing now!), becoming paranoid that I’m not blogging as often as others or commenting enough on other blogs to link back to mine to grow an audience for my writing, then reading about authors obsessed with Amazon rankings, authors dissing reviewers, reviewers dissing authors, agents dissing queries, publishers dissing anything straying from formulaic conventions that feed their bottom line, and AAARRGGHH! I JUST WANT TO WRITE. I want to write what I want to read. And I want to read what I want again without comparing the author’s writing to mine or wondering how she worded her query letter and synopsis to land an agent and publisher, or what social media efforts she undertakes to get the story out there.
It’s exhausting. Am I alone in thinking this? And am I alienating myself from your support by letting my defenses down for a bit and starting to stitch up a white flag of surrender? I promise I won’t be waving that flag, but at present I’m feeling quite annoyed and really rather bored by this commercial racket.
I also recently wrote about letting go of the ego that can have so many writers sucking their tongues from the roofs of their mouths and heaving a sulky sigh at the criticism they receive of their work, and I vow to not become one of these…but that being said, I just turned down a generous option to rewrite my manuscript (which lies at the intersection of multiple genres) in a way that would conform better to what readers of one particular genre expect. Even though that could give me a better shot at getting it published with a certain indie publisher (as opposed to potentially no one), I’ve made the decision that I can’t make the story or my writing style something it’s not.
This is not going to be my commercially marketable manuscript; I know that and am at peace with it. And even if it were, do I even have the moxy for self-promotion? Who knows, maybe I’ll churn out a mainstream potboiler next time round to wedge my foot more firmly in the door, but seeing there are still proponents of non-formulaic literature out there gives me enough hope to keep pushing the story I’ve got now in a digestible form still faithful to its original vision (because I am revising, and substantially—don’t think that I don’t take constructive criticism to heart!). I will climb back up my tree and nurture its scraggly branches, dolling it up with an ornament or two and conducting necessary trimming, yes, yet pruning it in a shape still reflecting its natural growth rather than Edward-Scissorhanding it into a poodle.
In short, and in the profound words of Charlie Brown, “This commercial dog is not going to ruin my Christmas.” Metaphorically speaking. 😉