Published, Publishable, Crap

Disney Rejection Letter, 1938 (detail)

Disney Rejection Letter, 1938 (detail) (Photo credit: sim sandwich)

Is publishable equal to published?

In all my non-published, never worked in the publishing industry wisdom, I said no.  I believe there are writers out there with work that is publishable that haven’t been published.  Bad luck, bad timing, giving up too soon, I can think of quite a few ways and reasons this could come about.  This question came up in response to a thread derailment on the writer’s forum.

Another member disagreed with me, and he has valid points (along with better credentials than I).  Who’s to say/how can someone say something is publishable if the work hasn’t been published?

Writing, specifically fiction, is so damned subjective.  What catches the interest of one agent (or editor, or reader) might be downright distasteful to the next.  Frustrating, but in my mind, that’s also the good news.  That’s what allows for creativity and interpretation.

Cut the Crap

Cut the Crap (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t get me wrong, I understand sometimes writing is poor.  Not having a good grasp of the rules of the language you’re writing in, a story that doesn’t go anywhere, characters that are flat, etc. But what about the writing and writers who get trashed by critics, but have huge commercial success?  Good luck, good timing, perseverance…yes.  There’s more to it, though.  There’s good storytelling–whether or not the sentences are artfully crafted–and understanding what your audience wants to read, who they can and will identify with.

I’ve said all along, I write to be read, to reach an audience, and hopefully, one day, earn a dollar.  If none of my work is ever accepted, never reaches an audience, just how pointless was it?  I’m asking in all seriousness, hoping for some discussion, not whining.

Here’s where I start chasing my tail.  You don’t know until you’re either published or give up.  There is no formula.  Most people are unable to publish their first manuscript, some hit with the second, some the tenth, some never do. Everyone’s heard stories of writers whose work was rejected over and over, and eventually were published, a few very successfully, others not so much.  But of those who stuck with it, kept writing and submitting, there’s another subset of those who found “homes” and publication for some of their earlier works that had been rejected, considered unpublishable.

How could those earlier works have been a waste?  And how do you know?  I can’t say “forget the audience, the possibility of publication,” when that is half of my equation.  I write because I’m driven to write, I have an overactive imagination, and enough hubris to believe others will identify with my characters and or their feelings, care about them long enough to keep turning the pages to see how the story ends.

If I run with the assumption that unpublished is the same as unpublishable, does unpublished automatically equal crap? Does it matter if what’s on my thumb drive is drivel or golden pearls as long as it’s trapped on the thumb drive?  Is it possible for unpubbed work to be anything other than drivel?  At what point would you decide that?  After 100 rejections?  50? 20? 3? Are all the unpublished writers craptastic hacks, while those who are published are brilliant?  If I don’t create the work, polish the work, submit the work (everyone is different, this is the part where I stutter and splutter), it will never have a chance.  It’s just a pile of crap taking up room in my brain, as opposed to my hard drive.

Here you have it, the chicken and the egg theory of writing fiction, by Mrs Fringe.  If all else fails, I hear chicken shit is excellent fertilizer.

Kindof a visual pun that I've illustrated...

Kindof a visual pun that I’ve illustrated. Which came first? Technically not a photo, but I did have to physically scan it in, so maybe that counts for something. This is a few years old. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)