Sunday, September 15, 2013

Putting the Maxim to the Test

Conventional wisdom says "Write the story you have to tell.  Don't write to the market."  The thinking is that great work will find its market.  I guess right now I am putting that thinking to the test.

I have a piece that has gotten lots of positive comments from publishers and agents.  As a result, I know the writing is strong.  The challenge is finding it's niche in the marketplace.  About a year ago, I had shelved it because of this.  Then, I saw a possible fit, sent it, and got a tremendous response, though ultimately still a no.  Now, the market seems to have shifted in a way that has left an opening for this piece.  So, I am acting on faith, sending it out, hoping that it will find its home.

This is a hard process.  I feel protective of this piece and its characters, but the only way they will find their audience is if I put them out there.  I don't want to shelve this one again.  I want it to find its home.  I am trying to have faith that if this story spoke to some, it will speak to others and somewhere, somebody will see that there is an audience for it.

But maybe not.

The world is no doubt filled with writers who have gone through this same struggle.  On  the one hand, if the piece doesn't fit a niche, perhaps it is unique.  It stands out.  It's not the same old thing that's been done before.  On the other hand, maybe there's a reason for that.  Maybe this story, well-written though it may be, doesn't have a wide enough audience.  Or maybe it's meant for the self-publishing world.  (I admit, that decision would feel, to me, like a defeat).

It's too early to call this one.  Much too early.

I want to be able to just put the story out there and forget about it.  But I can't.  I know it's standing, hat in hand, hoping, waiting, knocking on the doors of the agents and editors I have sent it off to.  If I've done everything I can, I have to let go.  But that doesn't mean I won't be thinking about it, even as I move on to new stories, new characters.

"Write the story you have to tell.  Don't write to the market."  I am putting this to the test.  I'll keep you posted on the results.

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