I guess I'll try and clarify some of my remarks of yesterday. As I reach the tenth anniversary of my first novel being published, I thought it was time to share a few thoughts I've come to have about the pitfalls of writing and the evils of the publishing industry.
In general, I've noticed most writers have jumped on the bandwagon that somehow beta readers and critique groups magically make for a better story. They may. But I believe they do not. I think it makes writers weak and hesitant as they avoid anything that some reader might take askance with. And I believe the root cause of this is the mistaken belief that there is an empirically good or bad story. Today's masterpiece is tomorrow's trash and vice versa. So, falling into the trap of telling a story that some editor or reader will like is the same mindset of writing something so teacher will like it and give me a good grade when you're in school. It simply doesn't work. And a lot of time and energy is being wasted in pursuit of a pointless goal.
So, when some editor tells some writer do this or avoid that, does that really make the story better or does it just placate some editor who is mangling a story beyond recognition? People are brainwashed that teacher knows what teacher is talking about or that editor so and so is competent and capable. That person may be. Then again, that's often someone simply thrust upon a writer and that person makes arbitrary or unnecessary changes to justify his own existence.
Now, what mikes this rant especially baffling is the obvious question: But, David, aren't you yourself an editor?. I am. And that's why I am so convinced that editors are so full of crap.
What's the solution? I ain't got one. Most of the stories that arrive on my desk for the projects I'm working on desperately need some editing. But do not believe for an instant that the editing process is pleasant or righteous. In many cases, perhaps most of them, it will leave you angry and frustrated. While an editor can help polish a story and make it shine, too often they make it dull and lifeless instead. And that is my cynical take on the world of publishing.