Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Friday, November 30, 2007

Whatever It Takes With One Caveat

Over at Murder She Writes, Karin Tabke poses the question: How far will you go? - with regard to what you will do to reach your goals.

My short answer was 'As far as is necessary without compromising my values'. Simple answer for me, really, but I'd like to talk about it a little further here this morning.

One of my goals it to write novels. Actually, I'm doing that - every day if I can manage it. I have two in the bag, and another three in various stages of editing, plus my WIP, so I am accomplishing that goal. Sometimes I work when I would rather be watching football, or Criminal Minds or NCIS. Sometimes I don't work when I ought to, and that leads to a big ball of stinky guilt. I never work when I'm supposed to be focused on teaching. First off, it's too hard to concentrate on both of those things at the same time, and secondly, my daughter's education comes first. It has to. I can write for the rest of my life, but I only have one shot to get my daughter started off right. That's part of where the 'not compromising my values' comes in. If it's a situation where there has to be a choice between writing and my family, the family always comes first.

The second goal is to get my work published. This is a little bit harder to accomplish, since it is not entirely in my hands. (Unless I want to go the self-publishing route, which I've considered and rejected.) On this front, I'm willing to read everything available to learn what it takes to be a publlished author. I've spent countless hours perfecting my query letters and synopses and outlines. I've tweaked my manuscripts until they shine, and then I go back to tweak them some more. I'd be willing to go to conferences and trade shows, if I had the money to do that. I'll schmooze and hobnob and rub elbows. I did that for years without any adverse effects.

The only thing I'm not willing to do is compromise my work.

I know that sounds like one of those pretentious phrases one hears from time to time. It's almost become snobby in its implications. What I mean by it, though, isn't anything like that. If getting published means I have to snip the meat out of my book, I won't do it. If it means taking an editor's suggestion to change the villian in Caldera from an eco-terrorist to a 'greedy businessman' I won't do it. It would go against my principles, and it would make the work less than it ought to be. If I accepted that, I would cry every time I saw one of my own books on the shelves. If I allowed that to happen, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror.

It doesn't mean the entirety of my work is sancrosanct. If some scenes need to be edited, so be it. If some passages have to be reworded to better convey their meaning, I'm all for it. Just don't cut out the ideas that are supposed to be in there. I'd rather burn everything I've ever written and live in a cave than see that happen.

So, if I have to sit here every day for the rest of my life--typing and editing and polishing--I'm happy to do it. If I have to leave the comfort of my hermitage in order to sell my books, I'm up for that, too. I'll just be doing it on my own terms, as I think it should always be. If that means I'll never get a single thing published, so be it. I won't be happy if I never publish, but I'll at least be content in the knowledge I never lost my integrity.

Now it's your turn. How far would you go to accomplish your goals? Do you think I'm out of my mind for publicly making the statement about not compromising my values? What wouldn't you do to accomplish your goals?

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