Saturday, March 23, 2013

Feed the Beast

It's an insatiable beast, the expectations.  Not only your own but those of the readers,editors, publishers, friends, and, worst of all, other writers. You sell one damn story and find that the editor anxiously "awaits your next." Have two stories published and everyone wants to know why there aren't "more."  It's insane, as if  you are a frigging fountain that only needs a touch to have you pour forth endless streams of narrative. The beast always wants another bite, raising expectations of more, more, more, and on a regular basis.  Crank it out, writer - it's just words and you string them so well so keep doing it. Dance marionette, dance!

Novelists and short story writers alike soon find the beast's appetite enormous.  Once you start feeding it there's an obligation to continue, offering it ever more to consume.  Besides outside demand, a writer worries that delay in production for too long will mean lost momentum of sales, of publications, of (scant) adulation.  A writer is also concerned that the fickle public may shift their attention to another should they fail to produce.

The worst is the goad you administer to yourself.  Were those sales mere flukes, accidents of luck and the fickle taste of a slush reader, the momentary inattention of an editor, or the slip of a copy editor's pen? You feel impelled to write another, just to prove that you can, just to prove to yourself that ....

Neither you nor the beast is ever satisfied.

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