From Holly Lisle
What Matters

2001, Holly Lisle

Issue # 3: 04/01/01

A Note from Holly Lisle
What Matters
A Note for Lazette Gifford
Gauging Success

Deeper People
Feature Articles
Otherwhens: A Theory of Alternate History
By J. S. Burke
Blunting the Knife
By Alison Sinclair
Reporting for Fiction
By Katherine Derbyshire
Making Dreams into Reality
By Jennifer St. Clair Bush
Fear and Crisis
By Michael E. Norman
A Triad of Religious Articles
By Sarah Jane Elliott 
     Peggy Kurilla 
     Bryn Neuenschwander
Classic Structure in the Horror Novel
By Ron Brown
Poetry Revival
By Lazette Gifford
E-Books and the Romance Field
By Anne M. Marble
Science Fiction: 
By Bob Billing
Suspense & Mystery:
Preparing for Your First Mystery
By Lazette Gifford
Young Adult & Children:
Turn Personal Struggles into Books for Children
Laura Backes
Young Writer's Scene:
Write What You Know -- Or What You Want?
By Beth Adele Long
Book Reviews
Screenplay: The Foundations 
of Screen Writing

Reviewed by Shane P. Carr
Web Site Reviews
AImovie.Com, Tangent Online
By Beth Adele Long
So What's New?
By Jim Mills
From the Writers' Board
News from Forward Motion

I receive entirely too many letters from beginners with an idea and a desire to get an agent, a publisher, and a contract - in that order and right away.  These tend to be folks who haven't even done a few chapters of the book they hope to sell yet.  Many have never really written anything.  But, armed with their idea, they're quite certain they're ready for the big leagues. 

This is no different than a person who has watched a bit of baseball on television but has never played, deciding he wants to go pro because he thinks he'd be good at it, and expecting agents, editors, and publishers to take this display of hubris seriously. 

But it also isn't the point.  Let's leave the agents and other pros out of the equation for a moment, and just consider the poor, naive would-be writer.  Here is someone seeking a career and hoping to acquire obligations and a big financial debt (and if you sign a contract and accept advance money, and then do not then deliver a completed and professional manuscript, my friend, you owe that money back.) . . . and they have no idea if they even enjoy the work. 

What matters for beginners who think they want to be writers is to find out if they like the work.  To those of you already write regularly, this may seem like an obvious insight.  Evidence would suggest otherwise. 

For those of you who think you would like to be writers, but who don't yet know if you like to write, here is my recommendation -- find out.  Writing is not an easy way to make money, nor is it the quick path to fame and fortune.  It is hard, occasionally frustrating, frequently lonely work.  It is a LOT of work -- a single novel requires months and in some instances years of focus and dedication,  and once completed may never sell.  And a single novel is just the first step in a career.  When you finish the first one, you start on the second.  And then the third.  And then . . . repeat, steadily, for the rest of your life. 

Having an agent is essential to a career writer.  Contracts pay the bills, editors help you make your work as good as it can be.  But they aren't the point.  They aren't what matters.  Ultimately, what matters is the writing -- you with a story or an issue or a  theme you are passionate, about, alone in a room with nothing but your hunger for the words.  The right words.   

If you do not love the words, the hunger, the hunt, go find something that does make you hungry, and that feeds your hunger at the same time.  Love writing if you want to be a writer, because that which you will not do for love alone, you should never do for money. 

Down that road lies bitterness and disillusionment.  And life is too short to walk such an ugly road by choice.

Write, believe, and never give up on your dreams, 

Holly Lisle
Editor-In-Chief,  Vision


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