There’s a quote from Anne’s House of Dreams that has amused me since I read it.
The trouble with Mr. Howard is that he’s a leetle TOO clever. He thinks that he’s bound to live up to his cleverness, and that it’s smarter to thrash out some new way of getting to heaven than to go by the old track the common, ignorant folks is travelling.
This can be applied to the publishing world, too, I think. There are some people out there (I know, because I’ve run into a few of them) who think that the book they’re writing is so clever, so ingenius, so new, that agents and publishers will fall at their feet with offers and contracts the moment it’s revealed. There may be tips and tricks to learn how to write better and how to self-promote, etc, but they don’t need these things, because they’re already inalienably brilliant, and their brilliancy shines from the very first sentence of their very first query letter, etc.
I am not, nor ever have been of that school of thought. Well, no, I lie… maybe I was when I first started writing at the age of twelve, but a friend glancing over my work and reading the first paragraph or two aloud to my intense mortification proved me otherwise. For me, the mantra has always been learn as much as you can—read the best books, and now that it’s available, the best author blogs that you can. Find out what they did, how they think, and what the publishing world has taught them, etc.
And okay, part of this is because I’m a fangirl. What? I am. So when I find an author I’m intolerably excited about (like Maggie Stiefvater, for example) I go looking up their blogs and things. In Maggie’s case, I stumbled on The Merry Sisters of Fate, a blog where she and Brenna Yavanoff and Tessa Gratton each write a short story a month, offering them up as free reads. Maggie told me herself how much this has helped them all in their writing, and just recently posted on how going through the “complete process” of writing a story as often as possible has taught her so much.
I have to admit, free reads are something I’ve been interested in for a long time. My dear Wren & Marnie were an experiment between free read and blog fiction, which sadly combusted in my face, and I’ve offered a short retelling of Rapunzel, with the intention of making it more of a habit, but always failing to do so. I think, though, that this has been because there has never been a deadline, or a concrete goal in mind. So now, I have one. Well, maybe I should say we.
Starting in January, Isabelle Santiago and I are going to be posting weekly fiction at Tales From the Hollow Tree. That means two stories by each of us each and every month. This is going to be a big challenge for us, but something we’re really set on doing. It will mean stretching out of our comfort zones in a lot of ways, but we’re going to have fun and play with short fiction as much as we can, and we’re very likely to be including alternate POVs or teasers from our WIPs (of course!)
I’m really, really excited about this, and so is Isabelle. I just hope the Merry Sisters of Fate don’t hold it against us. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Right?