The Strange Business of Writing Fiction…

Manuscript, inkwell and featherThe business of writing fiction for a living is altogether strange. The writer is not like the farmer with his seeds, the teacher with her curriculum, the pianist with her Steinway or the violinist with his Stradivarius. The writer has only what’s between the ears—and whatever can be coaxed to bubble up and be set down on the page. And even if the fiction writer strikes literary gold, there’s still the iffy, grubby business of getting it published.

Cue the violin…

There is one writer I know of who toiled for years over what he thought was his masterpiece, only to be metaphorically kicked in the teeth over and over again. He couldn’t even find a North American publisher at first, so in desperation he sent his manuscript to an agent in Britain, who managed to get his book published in a series of three volumes. Good stuff, you say? Um, no. Unfortunately, the publisher managed to somehow lose the ending of the book—the epilogue—which rather ruined the effect. Needless to say, the British critics panned the book. Even the Goodreads’ trolls can’t hold a candle to them.

The bad press was disastrous; the author was deeply in debt and praying that the book would earn enough money to placate the bill collectors. His prayers fell on deaf ears. But to be fair, the book he’d written was… strange. It dealt with, among many other themes, madness, murder and mass slaughter, of both men and animals. His main character was an animal—an albino, in fact, which thought and acted like a sadistic human stalker. And when the author found an American publisher willing to print a North American edition, the book ended up being a dud— mostly because of those critical British reviews.

Sadly, the author never really recovered from his failure and died an unhappy, debt-ridden failure. Hmm. It’s too bad he didn’t live a little longer. The author’s name was Herman Melville and his book, Moby Dick, is now considered a classic.

Strange business, writing fiction…

Sharon Ledwith HeadshotSharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, TUMBLR, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

28 thoughts on “The Strange Business of Writing Fiction…

  1. I vaguely remember that from my great authors class. Good story to keep in mind when we’re feeling defeated. I cheer myself up with Gone With the Wind, too. Thirty-eight rejections for Margaret Mitchell. I think Harry Potter was even rejected by some big companies. Publishing is quirky for sure!

  2. It really is amazing how many artists are never appreciated until after they’re gone. Hopefully we won’t have to wait until we’ve passed to have a bit of success! Great post, Sharon 🙂

    1. Agreed, Alan! But if this helps, sounds like you’re doing just fine! Thanks for your kind comment! Cheers!

    1. Cheers, Lisa! It makes me wonder if Melville was Jonah in a past life… Thanks for surfing by!

  3. What a great post, Sharon! Thanks so much for reminding me that I can still pull this writing thing off. Hopefully I won’t have to die first. LOL

    1. I hope not either, Sam! LOL! I think you’ve already made your mark! Keep writing and putting our those awesome novels! Cheers!

    1. Strange, Sloane, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything! Hugs for your support!

  4. Mobi Dick is one of my favorites. Too bad Melville didn’t live to see its success. I guess the lesson to authors here is…don’t quit your day job?

    1. I think all writers have the capacity to be a little crazy at times, especially with all those voices we hear in our heads! Hugs for the support, HL!

    1. My pleasure to share it, Dean! It certainly makes you think, doesn’t it? Cheers for surfing by to read and comment!

    1. Neither did I and when I did find out, I just had to share! Thanks for taking the time to read my post and comment, Basir!

  5. Great post, Sharon. Writers have always had it tough. Never knew poor old Herman Melville died broke and disillusioned.

    1. Sad, but true, Vonnie. We should all lift a drink to his vision and what he left us with! Salute!

  6. Good post Sharon . What do the critics know anyway ! Whether it is books TV or films I never agree with the popular press reviews – Whatever they slate I like and vice versa.
    Moby Dick is a real classic.

    1. Too bad old Herman didn’t have you in his corner, Susan! Thanks for your support! Cheers!

  7. Ouch! Painful to hear though one of many similar stories, and a good illustration. I’ve often found after a time it’s easy to get into a rut writing the same thing or staying still in an area where you’re comfortable. Somewhat fortunately, something usually comes along and gives me a good kick eventually, or I get around to giving myself a stern talking to, and somehow I keep going.

    1. We all need a good kick in our ‘writing’ butts, Sharon. We’re all in this together! Thanks so much for your support and thoughtful comment! Cheers!

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