Beware: the Four Dreadful D’s

distortionOver the years, I’ve discovered that TRUTH is like brussels sprouts–an acquired taste. It isn’t accepted right away.

Instead of the truth, most of us prefer something more comfortable. Writers do it too. We often prefer one of the four D’s: denial, delusion, distortion or disguise.

However, refusing to accept some simple truths can hurt you and your career.

Beware the Lies

Denial means to “refuse to accept or believe the truth.” I see this too often with students when they are ready to submit their stories and articles. Some refuse to accept the truth that you must study the markets and you must submit what they are asking for. If a magazine you love requests health articles only, but you send them your teen romance because you just love that magazine, the editor isn’t going to buy it, no matter how good it is.

Delusion means “the belief in something that contradicts an established fact.” One established fact is that learning to write well takes time and it takes commitment–daily, if possible. You’re deluded if you believe you can dash off several pages every few months and become a successful writer. That’s no more likely than if I practice Chopsticks every few months, I will end up playing Carnegie Hall.

Distortion means “taking the truth and slightly changing it into a partial truth.”  This is like when a writer tells an editor in a query or at a conference, “I’ve had five books published.” If you have five books in your hand that you paid someone to print for you, they are not five published books in most editors’ eyes. They were printed and self-published, and there’s still a world of difference (to both editors and potential buyers.)  You might not have paid anything, but only if there was no cost involved to your “printer” either (like Amazon’s CreateSpace print-on-demand books).

Disguise means “camouflaging a lie so that it resembles truth.” I’m sorry to say that, due to technology and the current economy, wolves in sheep’s clothing abound in the publishing arena. People wanting your money may call themselves “independent publishers” or “co-publishers,” but they’re still a close cousin to the old vanity presses that wanted your money. You do not have to fall for this. Thanks to the Internet, you can Google anyone and find out about them. Also become a regular reader of sites like Preditors and Editors and Publishing Scams and Writer Beware.

Choose Truth

Facing the truth is difficult at first. Like brussels sprouts, it sometimes has to be absorbed in small doses. It’s your choice. You can believe the distortions, live in denial, embrace delusions and be fooled by disguises.

Or you can choose to believe the truth about writing.

  • You do need to study the markets.
  • You do need to write regularly.
  • You do need to check out publishers in these days of so many scams.
  • And if you choose to self-publish, you do need to face the fact that you will probably have to lay out some money for cover design and/or editing services, then do much of the marketing, publicity, promotion and sales yourself.

Whether or not to believe the truth is your choice. There’s just one catch. Only the truth will set you free–to become the writer you dream of being.

Which truth do you find hardest to swallow right now? Please leave a comment!

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8 Responses to Beware: the Four Dreadful D’s

  1. Audrey McLaughlin says:

    Which truth do I find it hardest to swallow right now?…what an interesting question Kristi. I just talked about a truth I learned last month in the letter I sent to my ICL instructor with my final lesson. I finally took the time to read through an issue of every children’s magazine in a wonderfully stocked local library. Oh, I had “leafed” through “some” magazines before, but I never really let them soak into my brain. I was stunned at how much they have changed over the years! They are filled with brightly colored, quick paced, short in length ,stories, articles, quizzes and puzzles. It was a true aha moment for me. I had heard about the importance of being familiar with the magazines I was submitting to, but I didn’t understand that importance until I read them for myself. So I was definitely in denial about needing to study the market. It was probably the best thing that I did for my writing in a long time. It was a humbling moment. I thought I knew much more than I did…ouch! Thanks for this article.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Audrey, thanks for your honesty! I am guessing that there are dozens of blog readers who can identify with you. I am guilty of the same thing, only in reading current middle grade books. They’ve changed a lot too over the years!

  2. Shweta says:

    Hi …

    To be completely open about it my hard-to-swallow truths are, as previously commented on, the first, denial/studying markets, and the fourth, the wolves in sheeps’ clothing. I think for those who are serious about writing, the habit of writing regularly, daily if possible, will come eventually – it’s just harder the younger you are! But I’m finally at that point where there are no delusions about raw talent and writing a little ‘here and there’ being all you need. And that’s the truth possibly easiest to swallow … I struggle with studying up on the publications I could try because it’s so hard to find where I ‘fit.’ And I wind up sending something off to a publication I am certain won’t accept the piece, as the piece doesn’t quite match up to the majority of the content the publication boasts, maybe a quirky minority :) and I do that because I just want to say, ‘at least I tried; at least I’m sending things out…’ and then, when rejected, ‘at least I’m taking rejection in my stride…’ ah, I’m definitely in denial.

    As for ‘disguise,’ I’m guilty of wanting to think there are more opportunities out there with the rise of the internet and all its bonuses for writers, than there probably are. There’s plenty, but the more that pop up, surely the more scams and deviants there are to be encountered as well. I did need a reminder to be vigilant about this when the time soon comes for me to try and get a book published, and inevitably I get desperate and lunge for the first who says ‘yes’ to me. We all need to remember we’re not immune to scam artists I guess.

    I’m glad I came across this. It’s timely for me to read it; I’m taking it on board. Love how you outlined it all in a straightforward way. Really hits it home. All the best!

    • kwpadmin says:

      Shweta, I love your posts–and especially your honesty. It’s funny how these things come and go with age and experience…and how we trade one form of denial for another, or one delusion for another. Always something to look out for! But really, in the end, the truth is fairly simple, and it works. 8-)

  3. Audrey McLaughlin says:

    Shweta, I love your comment…”at least I tried; at least I’m sending things out”… I honestly wish that I could say that I don’t relate to it at all, but that would be a very big lie. Thanks for sharing your truth!

  4. Jen Rathe says:

    My biggest stuggle is probably denial, especially when it comes to studying the markets. It’s so easy to think, “Surely there is someone who will like my writing for what it is, like my style and be willing to accept it.” I get to thinking of this most when I hear of peolple talking about how things change in the markets over the years. I agree styudying the markets is important, but it something I find difficulty in. Even though I’ve learned to read more like a writer, I have a hard time picking out the styles and what the specific market is looking for. I often find things I don’t like, but it simply does not match my style. Also, when it is hard to find time to write, it’s even harder to find that study time and time to look/submit for samples, and I’m truly dissapointed in the library’s selection. When I have the time, I want to do the fun part – write.

    • kwpadmin says:

      Oh, Jen, I couldn’t have said this better! This is my daily challenge too. Thank you for sharing this. I’m glad to know I’m not alone. :-)

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