Let’s pretend that you’re a publisher.
Suppose that I send you a copy of Catskinner’s Book and ask if you’d be interested in buying the rights to publish it. To be honest, I don’t need to send you the whole thing right away, the first chapter would be enough. If you don’t like that, you’re not going to like the rest–it doesn’t get any better.
Anyway, it’s a pretty simple deal, I have written a book, I want to sell it. You’re in the business of publishing books, either you want it, or you don’t. If you don’t want it, that’s fine. Some people like my work, some don’t. I don’t take it personally.
Please don’t ask me for the book that you wish I had written. That book doesn’t exist. If you want to publish it you’re going to have to write it yourself. I can’t.
I’m fifty years old. I have been writing for most of that time. I know how I work, I know what I can and can’t do.
I write in a particular style. I use the rhythm of language to achieve the result that I want. I use punctuation and line breaks and capitalization and the layout of the words on the page to provide the music for the lyrics I write.
If you don’t like my style then the conversation is over, because it’s the only style I have to offer. A lot of people do like it–in reviews of my work “readable” is probably the second most common word, after “strange”.
I’ll admit it’s not formal business letter style. I don’t talk like that, and my characters don’t talk like that either.
What happens in my books is what has to happen in my books. I am sorry if you are unhappy with some of the events or you don’t like the ending. I told the best story that I know how to tell.
Maybe I am just flat out not a good enough writer for you. I can accept that. I do the best I can, but there is no guarantee that my best is good enough. I think I’m pretty good, and getting better, and there are a lot of people who agree with me. Still, you’re the publisher and it’s your business judgement that matters. You say the book’s not good enough to publish, then that’s that. I’ll move on.
I’m not going to change it to suit you. If I could make it better I already would have.
Now, if we weren’t pretending, and you really were a publisher, no doubt you would be fuming at me right now. I mean, who the Hell do I think I am? I’m just a guy tapping out words in a spare bedroom while holding down a day job to pay the bills. I can’t possibly be a real writer, because real writers know that books have to be rewritten by a committee, with lots of input from real publishers and real editors, and that no book is ever good enough the first time around.
That’s fine. No need for you and I to waste time with each other. You don’t want what I have to sell. Maybe nobody wants what I have to sell. That thought makes me sad, but there are a lot of unhappy truths in this world.
But I can’t sell you what I don’t have, and I’m not going to pretend that I can. What you see is what I’ve got, and you can take it or leave it.
Maybe–probably, even–everyone out there is going to leave it. There’s nothing I can do about that. Some people like what I have written, but it may not be enough people to interest a real publisher.
Fair enough. I’ll keep writing what I write for the fans that I do have.