I originally wrote this post with a completely different focus in mind. But it wasn't sitting right with me, so I scrapped it and started over. I wanted to address remarks I seem to be finding all over the place in the blogs and such I follow, including agent responses to writers' questions about what does and does not matter in their writing. I found myself composing a very cheerful and "PC" piece about every writer having a different path to follow, blah, blah, blah.
The problem is, where I went ended up very far from what got me going.
This morning, I found a post by Rachelle Gardner that highlighted "craft, story, and voice." She said they all matter, but her deciding factor is often voice. I just shook my head. Voice is something you can't hone, like craft and story. It's an innate part of your writing style. I do, honestly, understand why that is important. And, I'm sure if Rachelle read this post she would insist she'd never choose a poorly-written manuscript over a brilliant one based solely on voice (and I would believe her!). Still, it brings up the idea that it is the things that can't be controlled which often determine a writer's success.
And today a fellow writer posted on Facebook, "The publishing world #1 tip: It's all about relationships." I'm pretty sure she meant that you have to maintain relationships with your agent, your editor, and your readers, so be diplomatic and professional. But somehow it spawned a bit of a discussion in the comments about writers who blame the "it's who you know" thing when they get rejected.
So let's go there. We ALL can name at least one author we think got lucky and landed a publishing deal with no real talent. I've never hidden my disdain for the Twilight series. It was never jealousy that spawned that feeling, though, I assure you. I love seeing talented authors find success, and I opened Twilight with enthusiasm! I slammed it shut, though, with complete frustration. I had been bored to tears for 150 pages, and yet hear over and over again that an author must "grab" her reader within the first page! The first paragraph! The first line! So, why was that not true for Ms. Meyer?
Yes, gobs of authors get published every day based on real talent. But, other truly talented authors get rejected every day. To those of us on the outside looking in, there seems to be no rhyme or reason. And because we don't want to burn bridges, we keep our criticism to ourselves, and politely ask, "What's the secret?" But admit it--we all have moments when we want to scream, "Are you KIDDING me? The editor that turned down my manuscript actually just published THIS?"
So, yeah, yeah...we each have our path to follow. But let's be real. Some do get lucky and send their awesome (or not so awesome) writing to just the right agent on the first shot, some work their tails off and sludge through a multitude of rejections, and some schmooze their way into publication. And as snarky as I'd love to be right here, I'm going to truthfully say: I, you, we, have to just deal with it. And above all, DO NOT give up.