Friday, August 13, 2010

Whoops (and Musings on Malcolm Gladwell)

So today it's been two weeks since I sent my novel package to Black Library. This is the point where the OCD starts to kick in. I'm not checking my email all day yet (that starts at around week five), but I'm still hoping for a response every time I open up my inbox. Even though the idea of getting good news about a 13,000 word document in two weeks is absurd. Ask any publishing editor, I dare you.

Still. The OCD is strong in the Force. It makes me doubt myself. Makes me read over the submission guidelines again. Points out the sentence that reads "Please e-mail all submissions as a single attachment". Reminds me that I split my submission into three attachments. Laughs at me as I bang my head against a wall.

There are six more weeks before I reach the fail date for this submission. I'll probably keep documenting my growing neurosis here as time passes. Admittedly, this is a horribly unprofessional thing to do; but there are much worse ways I could be shooting myself in the foot, so what the hell?

(To any of the God-Editors who might be reading this: know that I humbly prostrate myself before you, and beg your forgiveness for any offense I may have caused. But I don't make blood offerings without a signed contract.)

* * *

Penn & Teller, of all people, recently reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell and his assertion that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master of, well, anything.

My secret identity is a math geek, and he decided to run the numbers. If I practice writing for an hour a day (reasonable for a man with a wife and a day job), and if I assume that I haven't put in any practice at all up until now, it would take me 27 years(!) to become a master writer. I'm 27 years old now. If I'd been writing every day since birth, I'd have become a master sometime last month!

Clearly grade school was a waste of time.

If I further assume that being a master writer will guarantee fame, fortune and high sales (which is not necessarily true), and if I quit my day job to spend eight hours a day doing nothing but writing, I would just about be ready to write the next Great American Novel at thirty, and could conceivably get it published by thirty-two.

Unfortunately I need to eat occasionally over the next three years, and since I don't have a winning lottery ticket in my pocket (wait, check... nope, nothing there), I need to hold down a paying job. So it's an hour a day, every day, in pursuit of mastery; and I hope you'll all join me when I'm a sexagenarian and kicking off my world book tour. I'll be touring with Neil Gaiman's head in a jar.

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