Friday, February 27, 2009

Are you a confident writer or a delusional one?

Via the always awesome agent Nathan Bransford, a link to this brilliant (brilliant!) post by J.A Konrath on the difference between having confidence as a writer and being just plain batshit crazy delusional.

Some of my favorite bits:
Confident writers work within the system, even though the system is flawed.
Delusional writers work outside of the system, even though they long to work within the system.
Would you rather be paid or be praised?
Confident writers know the best form of praise is a royalty check.


Samantha Elliott said...

As Cuba Gooding Jr. put it, "Show me the money!"

Ugly Deaf Indian Muslim Punk Gurl! said...

Hell yes. That was a great post. And I would LOVE to be paid to write someday...

Heather said...

I know some batsh-- I mean, delusional writers like that. The ones who come to the critique group and then give their defense to every piece of constructive criticism. The ones who know what the guides and blogs all say, but still insist upon sending their 5-page query letter on pink perfumed paper in 18-point Sand or Lucida Handwriting, just so they can stand out from the competition. And, of course, the ones who want to self-publish their books to attract attention from agents and publishers (which I've heard compared to getting into porn films as a way of breaking into acting).

Good luck with that, I say. I'll just be over here writing my novel.

Sprizouse said...

Are confident and delusional the only choices? Neurotic, unsure and consistently filled with self-doubt seem like they fit me much better (when it comes to my writing).

Every time I go back and read what I've written I always think, "Who the heck would ever want to read this crap?"

Feavre Dreams said...

The best form of praise is a royalty check?
Dang straight!

nataniabarron said...

I like the persistence/talent point there. It's part of what I call the Precious Principle. Precious as in Gollum's "the precious". I've seen too many writers (something I've seen in creative and business writing) fall apart at the seams with one ounce of criticism--"But no! It's the precious!" (I usually imagine these writers stroking their books, whispering to them)

Words. Can. Be. Re-written. They almost always should be. Just because you barfed out a novel, doesn't mean it can't be better. It's can always be better! It's not talent, it's hard work.

Melissa said...

My beagle tells me my writing's absolutely brilliant. Then again, she just might be telling me what I want to hear in order to get more tummy rubs.

Sarah Jensen said...

Mellisa, your writing is brilliant! No tummy rubs needed. ;)

just Joan said...

That is a great post! Thank you for sharing.

I especially liked "Confident writers know success is beyond their control. But they keep writing anyway, and will continue to even if success never happens."

And I also liked "Confident writers don't have failures. They have learning experiences that make them stronger."

selestial-owg said...

I read this today and thought it was brilliant too. The delusional people that pop up in some groups I've been around kill me. I know my writing isn't perfect, but I'm going to listen to every piece of advice and try to make it as good as I can make it.

Schrödinger's Cat said...

Konrath's post was great. I especially like:

Confident writers know when to move on, and learn from their failures and successes.

Having written three manuscripts, this is so true. The first was a great story line, but needed MAJOR editing (will revisit someday). The second turned out to be two hundred and thirty pages of springboards for upcoming possibilities. And the third was just fondled by a couple colleagues who gave it rave reviews. I'm sure there are things that need to be tweaked, parts that need to be cut, but that's the beauty of this job––you can keep making it better. And If I’m lucky, my hard work will pay off. Maybe someday a coach will be kind enough to take a chance and put me in.

Wow. The tone of my post is way too serious. Maybe I should mention that I think good character development means occasionally being possessed by your creations. Like Dr. Frankenstein. Huh, this means I'm currently a sixteen year old who's doing hard time in in-school suspension. Someone should really warn my family.

Lily Cate said...

Ah. That's my problem.
I'm not yet confident OR delusional.
The confidence is building, though. I didn't have any writing novel #1, which is why it was crap. I started to get some in the middle of novel #2, which is how I knew to set it aside and start working on novel #3- which is finally getting somewhere.

Alan DeNiro said...

The truth is, you can be both (I think there's good/bad confident and good/bad delusional). Being extremely confident might make you a successful writer, but it's no guarantee of being a good writer. And there are good delusional writers, though admittedly they fuck themselves over and hurt themselves more than anyone else.

And, it's about the money? Money as validation? Really?

Kenny Celican said...

Money would be a solid validation, for two reasons. An advance would be proof that someone who relies on salable works for their livelihood things your work is salable. Royalties beyond the advance mean they were right.

Which, if you're an artiste, may mean nothing. If instead you're a hard core narcissist like myself, however, it's plenty good as validation. Of course, my own personal 'best form of praise' would be someone cosplaying as a character I created.

Hey, at least I own up to my insanity.

Conjurae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Conjurae said...

Offering up a work of fiction is a lot like speed dating while nude...we bare everything with no guarantee that we'll come out of the ordeal with a date (i.e. represented or published). After all, we only get a few seconds to make a great first impression, and we do this by making sure that our body of work is toned, trim and attractive (confident) opposed to flabby, shabby and repellent (delusional).

As for the money, never confuse the art of writing with the business of writing. Every writer desiring publication must realize that publishers aren't in business to line their office walls with critical accolades, but to sell books. Period. If you've chosen the business of writing hoping for praise or validation, then you've chosen unwisely. Consider charity work instead.

S. E. Ward said...

Kenny, I totally get what you mean about cosplay. My personal insanity is an inner need to see my characters appear as action figures. Or, barring that, 12" fashion dolls, wardrobes sold separately.

Karina Fabian said...

This reminds me of a magazine writing class I took. I was the only person (other than the instructor) who was published. Someone asked how important the byline was, so she asked me how I felt about having my name in print. I told the class, "As long as it's on the check, I'm happy."

One person in the class asked if she could send her manuscript in colored pens "because that's my style." The teacher was actually hymming and hawing (trying to be supportive? Delusional? Hoping to cut someone else out of the market?) I stood up and told the group that editors get minutes to SECONDS to consider a manuscript--don't give them a reason to reject it out of hand.

I wonder if she listened to me?

Karina Fabian, Mensa and Mayhem is out today! Join the fun (