I've started to notice a lot of bitterness in the comments of the agents and editors' blogs I read. It's not exactly a new thing, but it's been on my mind lately. I keep seeing people claiming that getting published is not at all about craftsmanship, or that Agent So-and-so's blog readers are just a bunch of sycophants, that being a sycophant is what it takes to get published. For some reason, I've been dwelling on what a shame this is, because, to my mind, what people who complain about the unfairness of publishing are really doing is looking for ways to avoid examining the reasons for their lack of success. My lack of success is due to my not being good enough. I have thought I was better than I was, and then learned a thing or two and looked back to see just how much I was doing wrong. But I'm getting better. I'm reading, and studying, and practicing, and thinking. The gap between me and successful writers is narrowing, and eventually I will have some publishing success. Watch me and see if I don't.
Are there iniquities in the publishing world? Sure there are. Agenting and publishing decisions are made by human beings who are capable of simply being wrong. But at the end of the day, agents, editors, and publishers are in business to make money, not to help out sycophants or to grind some axe or another. It strains credulity to suggest that they're all going to pass up on commercially viable projects in favor of inferior work. If you think this is happening, maybe you're not seeing the merit in the works they do publish, or maybe you're not seeing the faults in the work you've written. I'm certainly capable of seeing flaws in my work now that I didn't even know to look for a year ago.
People who are so certain that their lack of success is rooted in a cruel, unfair world instead of in the quality of the work they do are basically embracing powerlessness. I believe that if I get good enough, I will succeed. That means my success is in my hands. That's empowering.
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