This writing process thing–and by that I mean the fiction/novel crucible, is a bit daunting. When I started out thinking I was going to use this “down time” to write a book, I first went into Barnes & Noble, and started wandering up and down the Young Adult book sections.
I immediately found myself overwhelmed. There’s a million people on these shelves; all of them have made some long-form, calibrated venture into stabilized balderdash AND–convinced someone to read it, like it, accept it and ultimately bring it to market.
I’ll come back to that point in a minute.
The other thing I found out is that apparently, this genre will not even think about publishing anything in the genre unless it rings in at 65,000 words. This poses a problem for me, as I sit at 50,000. Although, the upshot articles I’ve read state that fifty grand is fine, as long as you can really sell the overview/plot and whatever else in your pitch letter. So we’ll see.
I also noticed that probably 80 percent of the genre is written in some brooding, quasi-emo, 1st-person dystopian ersatz-suicide narrative, which I am loathe to do. Mainly because, while I am reasonably-masterful at capturing the magic of my youth, the glory of pre-adolescent boyhood, you know–lightning in a bottle, and distilling that into prose that will touch the hearts of the reader, I am also 40 years past puberty, and the essential nuances of teenage angst will most likely feel like a poser was trying to write it. I won’t write that way, but really, as far a personal restrictions go, I basically only restricted myself to one rule when writing young adult literature:
- Under absolutely no circumstances will my protagonist be forced to kill their own peers in routine, organized decimations involving medieval weaponry.
But this last ordeal is the one that I think every writer encounters, unless they’re already published. And it comes in the form of a question:
Are you going to self-publish?
Now, I get the subtext to the question, whether or not it’s an actively-cultivated thought behind the one asking me this: Are you going to actively circumvent the absolute, soul-crushing rejection, half-hearted delays and out and out ignominious failures associated with seeking a publisher, and go straight to converting your entire written work into an ePUB file and talk to Jeff Bezos about his cut?
The answer is no. I’m not prepared to do that. I’ve spent enough time in the YA section of my local bookstore, skulking through the aisles like a hapless vagrant that one might expect a displaced Atlanta Sheriff deputy to “put me down” before I bite someone in his camp, to know that plenty of appallingly-pedestrian writers have managed to get Inspector 12 to commission their literary whitey-tighteys. So I’m not going down without a fight.
And I apologize for the circa-1980 and reasonably-obscure reference to Haines underwear commercials to make my point. Snark is last refuge of the talentless.
Half the fun in this will be to find the publishers that will accept submissions from the Ground Zero Hack themselves (this means, from people like me too cheap to hire an agent) and see if I can bait them into reading my book. As far as I know, everything hinges on one’s ability to, with tact, verve and brevity, fire a flaming synopsis arrow over the bow and light up the decks of people who get these kinds of submissions all day long.
I’m also enough of a realist to know that I’m nothing special, either, but I do think I can bring an energy to the table that is missed by some. At least I hope so. I’ve written a decent story, and maybe one day, you’ll hear about it.
If not, it’ll be languishing in obscurity, waiting for a transient Kindle bum to trip over it. But not before I’ve drawn a prison dirk and done my worst.