(I've been debating about writing this post, unsure if people will take it the wrong way, but here goes anyway.)
This weekend I celebrated an anniversary of a sort. It's 5 years since I sent my first story to Total-e-bound. It was the first story I ever had accepted. It's what set everything else in motion. I can still remember how excited I was.
Fast forward to today and, in some ways, nothing has changed. I still love writing. I still have more stories in mind than I have the time/energy to write. I still love my genre.
In other ways things have changed. Rather than one publisher, I have five (six if you count the GR MM Romance group event, which is becoming more publisher-like as the years go by). While in some ways this is great, in other ways not so much, because each publisher has its own house style and these seem to have both diverged and become more stringent with each year that goes by, which brings its own complications.
Over the last seven months, I've written at least one story for each of the six publishers. So, six different house styles, six different sets of rules. I just worked it out and between the different publishers, there have been 17 different people editing / proofing those stories. 17 people with different opinions on what I'm doing wrong and should do differently.
Now, I'm the first to admit that my writing isn't perfect. There are lots of things I could do better, things that I'm learning how to do better with each story. But the fact that there are so many different, divergent opinions is hard to deal with. It's reached a point where I sit down to write and the thought process goes like this...
*writes a paragraph*
Damn. Publisher A doesn't like that sentence structure. Must avoid simultaneous actions.
Hang on. This story isn't going to publisher A, it's going to publisher B. They don't mind simultaneous actions, but they don't like was -ings.
*rewrites it again*
And so on, for every paragraph, for every story.
I think at first, I was okay with this, or at least I convinced myself that I would one day find a way to please everyone. Now, I accept that there's no way to do that when some of the publishers have diametrically opposing rules. There's no chance of me ever writing something that will please everyone or being able to settle into a steady style.
Just to be clear - Do I think the publishers are doing something wrong here? No. It's just the way things are. I'm not saying it should change at all, and certainly not for my convenience,
However, the fact remains that, with so many contradictory opinions, quite often from people who I don't know well enough to really trust, I've lost sight of my own opinion on, well, pretty much everything to do with writing. I reached breaking point.
After five years, I've realised that something has to change.
So, in the last week or so I've started a new project. Its a full length novel and for the first time in five years... it's not intended for a publisher.
So, no deadlines, no prescriptive house style I need to follow. I can just write. It's impossible to describe just how close to bliss the feeling is.
I'm not entirely sure what this means for where my writing will go in the future, but I feel more optimistic than I have for quite a long time.
I think things might actually turn out okay...