Recently we spent most of the weekend in Santa Fe. Not, alas, strolling through galleries drooling over what we can’t afford. Nor were we taking advantage of the multitude of museums. Instead, we were watching our state government at work, while waiting to hear a bill read in committee, at which time our group intended to stand in support of an amendment.
What does this have to do with writing?
Until this weekend, I still had some foolish idea our laws were made by people who paid attention one hundred percent of the time. When in fact the time we spent watching the House in action was more like watching study hall with the teacher absent. The Legislative Committee spent a lot of their time trying to catch up on the mountain of paperwork in front of each of them, and often were reading an amendment as it was being presented. This in addition to grabbing a bite to eat, slurping down drinks, and catching up on other business, prior to being called down to the Senate floor for an afternoon session.
Not to take anything away from these people, they have a year?’s worth of work to cram into sixty days, and they need to try to please both their constituents and their fellow legislators. The entire experience was eye opening to say the least.
Which got me to thinking, if this is what happens in what is generally presumed to be a gathering of serious people, what goes on in a publishing house? Again, not taking anything away from those overworked and underpaid in the publishing business. They certainly earn every penny of that paycheck. However, recent conversations in an excellent on line critique group concerned a disconnect between what people are told at conferences is wanted by a certain editor and what is actually accepted. Leading, of course, to frustration, angst and outright confusion on the part of those who dutifully submitted what they were told was wanted. How, they ask, can we know what to write if the editors don’t know what they want? Good question, one which has plagued me for many a blank page.
How can I write what they want?
Epiphany here, boys and girls. I can’t. What I can do is write what I want, what I believe in, what comes tripping off my arthritic short nailed (okay, ragged nails!) fingers at a rate ranging from slug to smoking. I can send it hither and yon, obviously not sending light fantasy to dark suspense but otherwise casting my children to the wind, and watching them fly away, to come back with good tidings. Hey, I write fantasy and romance, I have the right to high expectations. Eventually what I write will resonate with someone on the other end who needed just that book to fill out their day. Dang, now I’ve taken away my best excuse NOT to write.
Happy writing, and maybe I’ll get a manicure one of these days.