It's time for some brutal introspection and honesty... And this goes out to all the artists out there, not just the writers. So, your hours have turned to days, and even those have escalated to wearying weeks and months. You've worked hard, poured every last ounce of energy and soul into your craft, and now it's finished. You're proud, and rightfully so. This is the epitome of why you started, the reason you began this long journey in the first place. The book is finished, the scene painted, the lyric written with soul-wrenching melody to accompany it. Now, the world needs to see.
But before we go there, before we share our hearts and minds with society at large, we need to take a step back. Careful now, friend, lest your subjectivity be your downfall. Have you ever considered that your creation might not be so... good? Of course, in your eyes, and likely in the eyes of your close family and friends, the fruits of your labor may seem like heaven-sent manna for the starved and withering souls of your audience, but let's go beyond that... Beyond yourself, beyond your inner circle, your confidants... Pull a shade of objectivity over your eyes and let's take a ride through your work together. You may not realize it now, but you could be thinking more highly of your treasured creation than you ought...
All too often, I find that the artists that submit to us are ill-prepared and overconfident. Obviously, this is a poor combination, but what plagues me most is that these artists, some ripe with potential and others far from it, are blindly unaware of their ailment. It's a dangerous game to progress in the world of publication, submitting to agents and publishing houses alike, when you aren't fully prepared. At the least, you can be rejected and dejected in response; such a result can hamper your future creativity and drive. But at worst, and as an altogether likely scenario, the agents and publishers that first review your crippled work might not give credit to the followup submissions you send. You will have, in essence, broken ties with the companies that you so desperately need before you have even established them.
So, that in mind, let's discuss a few basic steps to take in order to avoid conceit in your work that might develop into barriers in your future.
These simple steps should put you on a path to seeing objectively, considering your work as one who receives it and not as the one who creates. Whatever the state of your art, be it severely lacking or near perfection, be open to change, open to adaptation based on what others say. Tunnel vision can beset the best of us.
Short and sweet and brutal. But perhaps it will save you from future heartache. Share it with your friends and let us know what you think! Until next time...
Steven C McCullough
Author and Agent to QuickFire.