Reaching the Finish Line

I rewrote the last chapter of my latest psychological thriller. I think I got it right now. Which begs the question, how many times do you have to rewrite a novel till you know it’s right? This is about the tenth time I’ve redone this book–most of the corrections minor, but corrections nonetheless.


PS:  After I wrote the preceding paragraph, I returned to my thriller and rewrote the last chapter once again.  Have I reached the finish line yet?  I hope so.

Bad for Business?

There’s an interesting article in the current New Yorker about the future of the publishing industry.  It doesn’t look bright for the Big Five publishers.  On the other hand, it looks rosy for Amazon, according to the author of the article George Packer.  He claims self-published Kindle e-books are bad for publishing because they’re so cheap that they’re putting the Big Five out of business.

If you ask me, anything that allows good writers to get published is a good thing.  The so-called gatekeepers of publishing in New York frequently make the wrong calls and keep good writers from being published.  No less than literary great Edgar Allan Poe had to self-publish some of his books.

Packer makes the erroneous assumption that anything that’s bad for the Big Five is bad for publishing and for authors, as well.  Anything that’s bad for the Big Five might be bad for New York Times best-selling brand-names, such as Stephen King and Lee Child.  But, then again, these guys could make it without the Big Five.  The demise of the Big Five won’t effect midlist authors and other lesser-known writers who are struggling to make a living, either.  These authors can self-publish.  So,  it looks like, if the Big Five go under, it won’t be the end of publishing.  It will, however, be the end of traditional publishing.

The book business has always been a difficult market to crack unless you had connections in the right places.  Amazon has opened up the market and allowed writers, who otherwise would never have gotten their works published, to sink or swim on their own in the cutthroat publishing business.  These authors can learn by experience that most books don’t sell, no matter how well written they are.  There just aren’t enough readers out there to make many best-sellers.

This Writing Life

I can’t write without knowing what I’m going to write.  Apparently some people have no trouble sitting down, staring at a blank sheet of paper or a blank computer screen, and typing out a story or book without having a premise in mind.  When I sit in front of a blank paper or computer screen, I become blank–unless I had an idea already flying around in my head before I sat down.  To paraphrase Nietzsche, don’t stare too long at a blank sheet of paper or it’ll stare back at you.

I need to know in which general direction the story is going to go in before I can start it. Writing a book is like taking a journey.  The first step is always the hardest.  The path will likely be fraught with deviation as the story proceeds, but I do need to have some idea where it’s going before I can begin writing.

That being said, I don’t write a long, complex outline before beginning my work of fiction. If I did, I would no doubt divagate from it somewhere along the line, making writing an outline a lot of work for nothing.

I’m not saying writers don’t need to write an outline.  I’m just saying what works for me. In lieu of writing an outline, I jot down notes whenever I get an idea where my story may be headed next.  I then consult these notes as my story progresses.

Writing is an exploratory process, and you need to find out which method works best for you.

Novelist Vince Flynn Dead at 47

I can’t believe Vince Flynn is dead.  He was so young.  I have read every single one of his thrillers and was eagerly awaiting the next one.

I feel like I know him, even though I never met him.  He was an inspiration to me as an author.  You see, Vince Flynn didn’t manage to get his first book Term Limits published by one of the giant New York publishing houses, even though he tried.  His political views didn’t jibe with the eastern liberal media’s.  He didn’t let the rejections crush his spirit. After sixty rejection letters, he decided to self-publish his book.  The sales of his first book put Vince Flynn’s name on the map, and, then, of course, all the New York publishers wanted a piece of him.  As the saying goes, nothing succeeds like success. Political views be damned.

The point is that Flynn didn’t let himself become demoralized by the publishers’ rejections of his book.  Vince Flynn should serve as an inspiration to all self-published authors.  I, for one, as a self-published author, have nothing but admiration for Vince Flynn.  Vince Flynn was a fine storyteller who could pen a page-turning thriller with the best of them.  He has been compared to Robert Ludlum and Brad Thor.  What really matters about Vince Flynn, though, is his spirit.  He didn’t allow the New York publishing power brokers to crush his creative drive.  He continued writing, in spite of them.  His Consent to Kill is still one of my favorite thrillers.

Even though I never met the man, I’m going to miss Vince Flynn.