Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is My Writing Good Enough?

Is my writing good enough? It’s a question that aspiring authors ask often. I saw it yesterday in the comments to Rachelle Gardner’s post, Don’t Take it Personally, but I’ve seen it other places as well. What unpublished authors would like is for someone to look at their work and say either, “You’ll be published some day,” or “You’re wasting your time.” Personally, I think it’s the wrong attitude. There isn’t a person out there who can do more than make an educated guess as to the eventual success of an author. Consider that Mark Twain strongly criticized James Fenimore Cooper’s writing skill while others praised him.

I look at some of the work that well known authors are producing. If an aspiring author handed me the same work and asked what I thought, I would say, “It isn’t good enough.” But apparently it is or they wouldn’t be selling books. We all have different tastes and that probably has more impact on the success of a book than writing skill ever will. Me, I don’t care for romance or historical fiction. I like speculative fiction, but I don’t write much of it. I don’t like stories that are very dark. Admittedly, For the Love of a Devil got dark in a few places. I tried to balance it out with a much lighter B story. But if you look at what Christian publishers are publishing right now, as I will show you tomorrow, what I write is slightly out of step. Much of Christian fiction is very dark right now. It is difficult to convince an agent that something lighter has sales potential when the only thing publishers are taking is dark. Or futuristic when they're taking historical. Or humorous when they're taking serious. Or whatever.

When we consider whether an aspiring author has future potential, no one wants to hear, “keep doing what you’re doing and maybe the wind will shift in your direction,” but for many of us, that may be what is required for there to be any hope of success.