I can look back on my writing career in the 80's and realize that I was on the cusp.
I'd had three mass market paperbacks published, I had an agent.
But I dissipated the momentum because I couldn't come up with a 4th book. I think I filtered myself too much. I'd get ideas and discard them.
I stuck with a bad 4th book for too long, and followed it up with a bad 5th book.
The 6th book was better and came very close to being published several times. I was getting letters back from editors--major names in the industry--whose message was, "You're close, you're almost there."
I went off the rails again on the 7th book, as an act of rebellion. It was creative, but it was a mess.
My process was really dysfunctional. I developed way too many bad habits. I took all the fun out of it.
Real life started infringing. I could see that making a living wage at writing was going to take time, if ever. I had the example of my mentor, who'd written 50 books, who had a Hollywood writing career, but who lived very modestly.
I got married, with two kids, and the store was offered to me.
Buying the store was the end of it. I couldn't summon the energy to write again for 25 years. My creativity went into the store.
So it's interesting how different it is coming back.
First of all, I fixed my process so that it is now very functional.
Secondly, I stopped filtering myself, letting myself write what I wanted to write, when I wanted to write it.
Third, I'm more mature, with more life experiences.
Fourth, I'm a better writer. I'm sure of it. I'm at least half again as good as I was.
So if I was on the cusp before, and I'm a better writer today, why isn't it easier?
I'd have to say that the competition for that space has grown exponentially.
I think I know why.
Back in the day, the process of writing was grueling. Really, really grueling. Typing out manuscripts, copying them, mailing them off. (There were lots of steps in-between, all which had to be done right, all of which took time and money.) It really was a marathon.
My guess is that there were lots of creative people who either didn't have the wherewithal to attempt that race, or looked at it and decided not to.
It is incredibly easy to physically write a book. A hundred times easier.
Not only that, but there is always an outlet. Even if every publisher in the world turns you down, you can still put a book out.
So I think inevitably that had to attract a whole bunch of new writers, and some of them are going to be damned good writers.
Writers you didn't have to compete against before.
Assuming that the discover-ability problems of this mass of new writers can be fixed, this is going to result in more good books in the world.
And make it that much harder for any one writer to stand out.
So be it. I'm enjoying this so much, it doesn't matter. I love the ease of writing, the multiple directions I can take.
I'll take my chances.
6 days ago