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A Long and Winding Road

Updated on April 2, 2012

Long and Winding Road

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When have you said enough?

This is my first novel (that I'm even close to finishing). There have been other starts, good ideas that were abandoned because I never really believed I could make a living as a novelist. I have to say, though, when writing is going well it is the purest form of joy. The act of creation, the expression of ideas that seem to come out of nowhere and make the hair stand up at the back of my neck, gives a purpose to getting up every day. The only time I think about the next step - getting published - is when it comes time to pay bills and there is never quite enough money.

I do look forward to the time when I have readers, when I know that my efforts have not been in vain and have have contributed to someone's life as other writers have contributed to mine. Someone wrote "A thousand suffer, when one writer is silenced, for want of that particular vision." Writers can bring culture and sanity to a troubled society.

It is a Long and Winding Road, now that I am editing and polishing, trying to figure out how to turn 25,000 words into the magic 50,000, that some say is the suitable length for a novel, without putting in filler. It is hard to silence that inner critic that has silenced more writers than the people that write book reviews for the major newspapers.

Today writing went well. That's all I can hope for. To all those out there in the same struggle - I hope today went well.

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    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      DougReid, yes e-books have opened up markets for shorter works. For instance, I read recently that Amazon is now publishing mini e-books longer than a magazine article and shorter than a book. Narrativemagazine.com is an example of an online publisher that considers all lengths of fiction and narrative nonfiction. My publisher, Whiskey Creek Press in Casper, Wyoming, is mainly an e-book publisher but also offers print on demand paperbacks so needs to give some thought to length. The Internet has also made possible a range of short form movies. (A town I was in last year had a 4-minute movie festival.) It's exciting times for a writer. For finding a publisher, I just found out yesterday (4-2-12) about duotrope.com, which is an online database of writing markets. I just did a search for a publisher that would consider a 50,000 word general interest mainstream novel and got a list of a dozen publishers. I switched the genre to science fiction and got a list of three dozen publishers -- some print only, some e only, and some both. So disregard what I said before. When I changed Payscale from Any (including no payment) to Pro, then the result is zero publishers. I guess that means that the big name commercial publishers want manuscripts longer than 50,000 words.

    • DougReid profile image
      Author

      Douglas Reid 5 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      Thanks for the comments.

      I found the comments on novel size especially interesting. I read one book that stated that 50,000 words a worthy goal but that is clearly not your experience. How have eBooks changed how we view book size? A thin novel may not seem worthwhile on a book shelf next to 600 page thrillers. I think that the perception is different with eBooks (they seem to be all over the map as far as size) especially if they are moderately priced.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Only a tiny fraction of published or produced writers make a living solely from their writing. Taking a quick glance at the author bios page in a publisher's website, I see a librarian, an accountant, a schoolteacher, a newspaper editor, a systems manager, a marketing senior manager, a journalist, a stay-at-home mom, and a truck stop assistant manager. A favorite day job of well-established novelists is teaching university creative writing and English composition classes. They are probably all wanting and striving for when they can make a living from their creative writing alone, and some accomplish that, but for most it's a delicate balance of time management – finding work that pays living expenses while leaving time, energy, and mental alertness to be a productive writer.

      I wrote a novel slightly over 50,000 words long and had a very difficult time finding a publisher willing to even look at it. Most novel publishers want at least 65,000 words and prefer 80,000 or more. I finally got The Son Who Paid Attention published, and I was thankful for that, because I didn't know where else I could submit the manuscript. There are probably more markets for 25,000 word novelettes than for 50,000 word short novels, which isn't saying much.

      From what you say about "gives a purpose to getting up every day", it's clear that you understand a point made by Laraine Herring in WRITING BEGINS WITH THE BREATH -- that what motivates a writer is the process, not the product. Yes, getting published and widely read with enthusiasm are worthy and worthwhile objectives, but whether or not a finished work achieves that -- and the quality of the writing is only one factor determining the outcome -- there is then for the writer another work to write, another blank page, a new work conceived, which may or may not do well when completed and sent into the world.