Up to thirty rejections now. Starting to think that I’m either really bad at writing a solid query, or there are some serious problems with my first few pages that I’ve missed. I’ll probably take a look at the manuscript before next month. I think there has been enough time since my edits that I’ll be able to look at it with a fresh perspective.
There are writers in my past who I remember with fondness, their stories floating around at the edges of my consciousness whenever I’m writing. I carry them with me whenever I write anything, like the cloud of witnesses from the book of Hebrews, their words and phrases and stories and characters bouncing and touching the corners of my mind as I try to tease a narrative out of thin air. Tolkien, Salvatore, Rowling, Modesitt, L’Engle, Martin, Abraham, McCaffrey, King, Asimov, and many more – the authors who have written the stories that I’ve devoured eagerly over the years and whose styles, whether intentionally or unintentionally on my part, have seeped into how I do what I do – they stay with me. Their stories have stuck in my head for one reason or another. Their characters mattered, and the struggles they faced felt real, no matter how unreal or improbable or fantastical their individual stories were.
When a character, author, or story sticks with you, it is a constant struggle to prevent yourself from mere imitation. As much as I like R. A. Salvatore and admire his craft, for example, I don’t want to write as him. I have to work to make sure my efforts create something that is truly mine, even if I’m building on the work of those that I’ve read. To create something utterly original would be truly impossible, but simple mimicry falls short. That’s what all writers have to deal with, I suppose. Let me know if you have helpful hints to threading that needle.
Write your story!
-J. E. Ayers
Jeff Ayers writes books that are pretty good.