Greetings everyone! Queen here.
One thing that I spend a lot of time doing is listening, reading, and observing. I am not one who always feels the need to respond to every Facebook post or Twitter feed that is out there. Yet, there are some trends out there that have no business gaining traction. Also, there are certain mannerisms that have been getting a bit of mistaken identity.
It is one thing to cheer a person on that has actual talent; it’s another to feed into a person’s delusion.
Here is what I mean.
The ability to publish used to be a very unique experience. With the advent of self-publishing and multiple avenues to get your work out there, it takes away from the uniqueness of the whole process because now, it seems that anyone that can use a computer is writing something.
With the lack of uniqueness presents danger—the focus on quality has significantly declined, therefore generating the very real development of the “slush pile” in literature.
This post is not going to be about lack of plot, flawed character development, or about a refurbished story line gone horribly wrong.
This post is not even going to be about an author not getting a proper cover design or invested money in extensive editing, even though all of these things contribute to the “slush pile” epidemic.
I want to address the source: the person (or people) that provided encouragement for the work to go from being a draft to a published work.
Now, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t give encouragement or operate on a high level of positivity. As a matter of fact, there is an abundance of despair and negativity at every turn, and if you want to serve your part to counteract the imbalance, then it’s admirable.
However, there is a point where you have to decide whether you are willing to risk another person NOT liking you for the sake of ensuring that very person becomes an improved version of himself.
How does that relate to the world of writing and self-publishing?
Let’s say you have a friend whose biggest dream is to become a writer. To cut down on a lot of “he” usage, let’s call him Aaron. Aaron’s mom, his grandmother, and his third cousin on his dad’s side have all said they enjoy his writing and believe he should get published. Aaron is very excited and gets his story together. After it’s written, he gets his mom, grandmother, third cousin and you to take a look at his work.
Aaron’s grandmother finds no flaws—she’s just very proud of her “grand baby”.
Aaron’s mom finds some mishaps with punctuation and spelling here and there, but nothing that would render the material unreadable. She thinks it’s an overall great story.
Aaron’s third cousin says the writing isn’t really his style but mainly because it is not in his favorite genre. However, he still feels that Aaron should proceed with publication.
Then, one day, you are over at Aaron’s grandmother’s house. The third cousin and mom are over, along with Aaron, for their weekly tradition—Sunday dinner. While the family savors the meal, a conversation begins about Aaron’s work in progress, and Aaron realizes that he has not heard from you—his best friend—what you think of his work.
“So, my best friend in the whole wide world, what do you think?”
You have read Aaron’s WIP, and truth be told, it isn’t that great. Choppy sentence structure, flaws in dialogue, plot holes all over the story, and full of filler information. The book needs a serious overhaul, and even then, you are not sure it is a work that should be out on the market for reading consumption.
What do you do? You know that Aaron is not all that talented (the delusion), yet his family believes that he is and are playing the cheerleaders. Do you dare disrupt the illusion with your honesty, in the hopes that Aaron appreciates it and knows you just want him to be a better writer overall? Or, do you play along and add your voice to the cheers?
The “slush pile” in self-publishing is proof that more people are curbing their honesty—they would rather not be the cause of hurt feelings, playing the role of the cheerleader.
Yet what happens when the published work begins getting mediocre to low ratings, even worse, the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish)? Did the cheerleading really benefit the author?
In the above mentioned scenario, if you are a TRUE FRIEND and advocate of GOOD WRITING, you would give your HONEST opinion of Aaron’s work, even if it means he will dislike you for a time. He may not ever thank you for the insight, or worse, decides you are no longer his friend. However, the literary world will thank you for it.
Yet, if Aaron decides to carry on with his publishing plans and opts not to fix anything, at least you tried. He will have to learn the hard way if he is truly tough enough to endure the cutthroat life of being a published author.
I say all that to say this~
As a friend, know the difference between cheering someone on that is truly talented and feeding into someone’s own delusion of greatness. Any author who says he wants feedback but each cross out, red mark, or comment on the manuscript causes him to get defensive or even worse, say “You are just being a hater”, is delusional and not open to mastering his craft. Even those touted as literary greats wouldn’t be where they are today if it weren’t for those who were willing and able to put friendships on the chopping block to secure their continued growth in the craft.