Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fight the rewrite

I mean this in the sense of, "Fight the good fight," as opposed to, "Fight Nazis and Fascists" (which is, I guess, a pretty good fight).

I recently got a rewrite request for one of my submissions. That's totally awesome, and it came at a great time - when I was getting a little "ugh" about a lot of my work, thus resulting in a mood-boost. But, man... what pressure.

I've written before about my preference for a wealth of failure to the crumbs of potential. It is far easier to keep myself motivated and proactive when I am unsuccessful in the grand sense of things, even though this is potentially... insensate. The "writing-for-writing" illusion is maintained when there is no possibility that others - especially, others of consequence - are reading it. This leaves me to act quite freely, do as I please, "be wild," et cetera.

Not so when I know there are observers!

Witness, for example, my recent reversion to a flavourless blog title. Why? Because if Sheila Williams tried to visit my blog, who knows who else might? Catherynne Valente? John Joseph Adams? I mean, I just wet myself, and all I did was say their names. But honestly, how silly did I sound with a blog title like "Deathrays & Alien Babes?"

...and how silly do I look with a blog called "Ben Godby's blog?"


And yet, this vapidity - the vapidity that would lead me to suggest my blog is only about sex and killing - extends in many cases to my fiction itself, at least in a metafictional sense (the "this book is only about sex and killing and is thusly about much more than just sex and killing" sense). If that's me, then there ought not to be good reason to "portray" myself otherwise. But - alas - these things happen.

So, on to the rewrite. Let it be said that I'm not at all opposed to refashioning my work according to someone else's notes. I don't think this relates to any poverty of spirit from which I might actually suffer. Editors read a lot more than I do, and they pay for the good stuff, so why shouldn't I trust them? It's not "selling out," it's "selling." But, whether or not the rewrite results in a sale, it will be great practice for me in thinking more critically about my own work - since I'm so often the worst judge of it.



  1. Maybe you can have two versions of your blog, with all the content the same but just the title changed. =P

  2. To be honest, I thought "Deathrays & Alien Babes" was a brilliant name for a blog. And if you have a serious blog description -- "the musings of science fiction writer Ben Godby" for example -- you instantly see that it's all fun. It hearkens back to the Mars adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    But maybe that wasn't the feel -- or brand -- you wanted.

    Of course, who am I to give blogging advice? I mean, I've change blogs more than I change socks. (But no more, I promise. At least not for a few weeks.)

  3. I really do think "Deathrays & Alien Babes" was good. Assuming you do write about deathrays and alien babes, it makes sense.

    What Jeff says about a good description is a good fix for any lingering uncertainty. It keeps your name in the blog masthead, which is important.

  4. Congrats on the rewrite request! Which market asked for it?

  5. Haha, well, here's a new title and for the love of all things decent I'm not changing it.

    Eileen, the rewrite is for Ideomancer. I finished it up today, so we'll see what happens. But like I said, it's pretty cool just to get feedback from an editor, considering that most submissions are rejected "form"ally.