Can My Ticket Expire Before I Make the Dock?

Personal Note: I played flute for six years in school and then stopped abruptly. I don't even remember the key positions anymore and it saddens me.

The most painful, hard-to-follow advice I've been given since starting a novel has been more or less along the lines of "Don't rush! Don't submit anything until you have made your book the best that can be." My 'advisers' know their stuff, either because they're already pros, or they've been around this particular block quite a few times and know where all the open manholes offer you a one-way trip into the sewer, but I am an incredibly impatient person. The waiting may kill me and if it does, you're all invited to my funeral.

Just in the last twenty-four hours agent Rachelle Gardner wrote a post about the practice of patience. Some parts of it lifted my spirits (Hey, everyone else's just like me, too!), and other made me feel as if eventual success is just another hopeless daydream.

This second part has much to do with the genre of book I write, paranormal YA. Yes, with series like the Twilight saga, those of Melissa Marr, Holly Black, and Libba Bray--all with supernatural themes--supernatural/paranormal YA is HOT, HOT, HOT right now. But the catch is the 'right now' bit. 'Right now' doesn't mean next year or the year after, and the book publishers and agents of today are looking for the reading trends of tomorrow because, guess what? Having a book accepted today doesn't mean it will show up on a shelf next week. I hear the average is closer to two years. So, theoretically, you've got to write two years in advance. What's going to be the 'in' thing for 2011?

You can read trend projections, which could be wrong, and then work on a manuscript with them in mind, or you can keep working on your current baby and hope it makes it out of the hospital okay. You have to ask yourself why you write what you write. Did you begin this project hoping to be published (Rachelle also has a good blog post on that one, if you're willing to dig a bit through the archives), and if so, how much of your writing is contingent on accomplishing that goal? Love the book more, or the idea of publication?

For the first, the answer is simple, and grueling. Work your tookus off until the manuscript shines even in the darkest times of its genre. For the second, the answer's the same, because let's face it, once everyone else knows what's going to sell they'll jump on the bandwagon, too.