Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Remember the work

Popular authors often find themselves at the mercy of fans: Criticism on the direction of a series, illegal and sometimes horrible fan fiction, people wanting to know every jot and tittle of your everyday life, demands new for work as soon as possible, stalker-like behaviour...

Fortunately, that's not me... though I can dream...

But given the latest controversy over the train wreck of LKH and other authors, I found this timely quote from one of my faves, David Weber:

Keeping yourself informed of your readers' reactions is as important as remaining willing to listen to your editor's criticisms and suggestions. Ultimately, you have to be the final judge of what's going to be published over your name, but the day you decide your judgment is infallible -- that no one else has a critique or a suggestion which could improve your work -- you are no longer going to be doing the best work of which you are capable.

A writer must stay true to the story and the characters. No writer can afford to allow the nigglers and snipers to influence the work. But, and it's a big one, when hordes of fans tell a writer there's something wrong, that writer should pay attention.

Editors, too, should have a say in a writer's work; they are, after all, there to help make that work the best it can be.

You can't be precious about your work, and if you are, then keep it in a drawer to take out and gloat over every now and then.

Me, I still get a little bent out of shape when I receive stuff back - I mean, if I think it's perfect, why can't anyone else? Okay, that's the initial response and I'm learning to reign in the resentment...

It doesn't stop my consideration of proposed... adjustments, some of them... ah, most of them improve the work, though it remains my choice whether to accept the changes or not.

Bottom line, I'll be keeping the Big D.'s words in mind so I don't fall into the trap of believing my own P.R. - that way leads to deliberate, self-involved failure.

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