Tell All The Truth
Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth’s superb surprise;
As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
~ Emily Dickinson
Rejection sucks. Even the smallest ones, from well-meaning friends who say, “Oh, I like your writing, but I hate science fiction, so I won’t bother reading yours if you publish any,” constitutes rejection-before-the-fact. When you’re rejected by an editor or a publisher, it’s some days enough to make you long to give up and go to bed with a book.
That sounds so good right now.
And yet, that’s sort of a turtle-response, retreat and withdrawal and the licking of wounds. There really are no wounds, not really. No one is rejecting my writing – actually, I get so many compliments about lovely turns of phrases and well-chosen words and such. It’s the saleability that’s at issue. “I don’t quite know what genre this is,” my agent usually says, and there’s that worry in his voice, which lets me know what my editor will say. “Oh, I like it, but I don’t think I can sell it.”
Which is… a conundrum. Am I working with people who have no vision? No. Am I working with people who know the market? Yes. Is the common denominator of this issue me? Again, yes. I am possibly more than a little out of sync with the world as it stands, and thus, I write things which probably will languish on the shelves, if the publishers take the chance on them. They don’t want to sign reams of midlist authors; editors are still looking for the next JK Rowling, the next Suzanne Collins.
And maybe I don’t know yet who the next “me” is meant to be.
I am feeling pretty rocky right now, true. But, I’m also trying to be clear-eyed. I never wanted to be a person who studied the market, who poked at it and tried to see what people wanted. I wanted to write what I wanted to write, and find the place where it fit. I remain convinced that there is a place… but, I am also wondering if I have been too stubborn for my own good. Maybe this is what we’re meant to do – to tell the truth, but tell it slant. To write to that market, but somehow, to keep hold of our own selves. I am in less doubt as to whether or not this can be done, and more doubt about whether *I* can do it.
Off to think and to reboot. Something good will come of this latest setback – it simply has to.