People familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality test know that the writer is the INFJ. This person is introverted, intuitive, feelings-oriented and judgmental.
So, what happens when an extroverted, intuitive, thinking and perceptive (ENTP) inventor tries to write a novel? For one thing, it takes more than 35 years to finish. The story is never quite right; it always needs tweaking. And, lo and behold, when the ENTP finally does complete a manuscript, he/she will come up with another idea, brilliant of course, which requires scrapping and rewriting three chapters. Unfortunately, once scrapped and rewritten, left-over references to long-gone characters or events somehow live on in the word processor’s memory and mysteriously reappear somewhere in the manuscript. It drives all readers, editors and wives especially, mad.
Even if the ghosts are exorcised from the page, the spouse or whoever else is doing the editing won’t necessarily forget them. Their memories are harder to erase. Only the truest of friends will be willing to read your twentieth revision, and only the most intelligent will be able to assimilate the newest additions at will.
But somehow it finally is finished. Then it turns out that finishing the novel was the easy part. Trying to get it published is another story entirely. What you hope to be an easy jaunt to the local mailbox to find an agent turns into a Homeric voyage, with hundreds of rejection letters floating in its wake. As every writer knows, authors are uniquely at the mercy of others to bring our work to public attention. A painter or sculptor can usually find a coffee shop or gallery to exhibit their work. The diligent composer will eventually find a local quartet or civic orchestra to play his or her work. But the author alone must rely on the judgment of the publishing professionals, gatekeepers who want to know what makes this manuscript worthy to be included in the approximately 100,000 new books that will be published in the coming year. Quality doesn’t even matter. Even if it is better than 95% of the books in print, the question an agent must face is why should a publisher add this particular manuscript to his list? Who will buy it? After all, this writer is unknown. Then comes the cruelest question of all. Why should I even bother to read it? Most of the time they don’t. According to Curtis Brown, on average, a known agent will get 50 to 100 queries a day. Of this number the agent will read as few as one percent of the total number of proposed manuscripts they receive in an average year. Only one manuscript in three will be accepted.
The sad fact is that there are more writers seeking publishers than the total number of books ever published. Jay Leno’s All Stars could have written many of them, but even if you have talent, the numbers are still staggering. Potential novice writers can find a writing class somewhere in the country nearly every day of the year. If they don’t want to attend one in person, they can always find one on the Web. Legitimate writing professionals lead most of these classes, but far too many are only meant to separate prospective authors from their cash. Either way they will sooner or later be looking for a publisher.
So, knowing all this, why did I persist? Because I could not do otherwise. The urge to write is as deep in my being as a smoker’s desire for the next cigarette or an alcoholic’s for the next drink. I love words and I love thoughts. The idea that someone 100 years from now might read and like the book outweighs any negative criticism or public indifference that I may run into in my lifetime. My advice to anyone who has such the same urge is simply: write. Forget the odds and don’t be discouraged. When you have a product that you know is your best work, try to get it published. Finally, don’t feel like a failure if you have to publish it yourself. Quality will tell, even if only your friends are aware of it. Believe me, it’s worth it.
John Anderson wrote The Cellini Masterpiece under the pen name of Raymond John. He is a historian who has sold stamps and other collectibles and a former Military Intelligence Specialist with the US Army Reserves. He is now working on his sequel to The Cellini Masterpiece, entitled Language School. The first chapter of The Cellini Masterpiece is available for available at http://www.cmasterpiece.com . Mr. Anderson can be contacted at the website.