Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My first book, as opposed to ‘my first published book, was an historical fiction novel about ancient Rome. It ran some three hundred thousand words. It was, to quote the agent who kindly tried her best to represent it, “Not the best I’ve read, but not the worst, either.” ( I read it again recently. She must have been reading some real ‘dogs,’ because my book was mediocre, at best.)
So I went back and edited it down to two hundred thousand words,thereby immediately improving it by thirty-three and a third percent.

It’s better now (it wasn’t hard to make it better; just about anything I did to it would have made it better, I think) and it will probably never get published, but I save it for head-reduction purposes.

Whenever I get an award, or get written up in the media, or find myself quoted all over the Internet, and I start thinking I’m pretty hot, and ‘Whoa, just look at who’s a great writer here,’ and puff stuff like that, I take out my good old copy of “The Thundering Legion” and read a few chapters, and my head size diminishes visibly.
I hope you’re smiling just about now, because I certainly am.

It’s good for my humility, and brings me back to recognizing that all talent, great or small, is a gift from God, and that I’m lucky He let me be a writer. And I resolve yet again never to let Him--or my Gift–-or myself—down again.

Remember never to let your own Gift down, either. Whether you are a beginner, a journeyman or a famous professional, always remember that it is a Gift, and that you owe it--and the Giver-- your level best, no matter how much work you have to put into it, no matter how difficult it is. It's your job to push the Gift--and your work--above the level of Mediocrity, past 'So-so', on through 'Much better,' and break the ribbon as you race into 'Now you're a Pro!'

This awareness separates the wannabees from the potential Pros: the ability (natural or cultivated) to push through your own lassitude, through all the distractions, the naysayers, the doom-criers and the crab-basket occupants, who would love to see you succeed, if only it didn't point up the fact that they themselves never have tried quite hard enough, or long enough.

Hang in there. Keep writing. Write anything, good, bad or indifferent. It can always get better once it's on the paper, the tablet, the computer document. Then you can adjust, slam, rewrite, carve, fashion, and caress it. But it has to be there! You need to have it down where you can get at it. You need to have something to correct. Just remember, no one can edit what you're thinking! Get it down on paper!

Go away now, and write. The world is waiting.


Lang out.

Check out the second edition of my initial novel, 'All the Gods of Eisernon' at

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