Tuesday 21 December 2010

Hiring a pro

One of the reasons why I want a bigger pay cheque (apart from paying off my house in less than 30 years, investing some money on the stock market, and wearing tailored suits) is that I want to be able to afford hiring a pro to look at my novels.

I have the good fortune to know a lot of excellent people, and many of these are making their way as writers and editors and freelancers in a field that is even more money-sensitive these days because competition is so high. If you've ever tried to charge writers for teaching them, you'd know what I mean. The people that start out writing don't have the cash. The people that have the cash are not necessarily the most talented. I do some of that work, and most writers fall back on other writers. "Find my typos and I find yours" is an accepted form of mutual help in writing circles (I wish corporate drones were as helpful as well-adjusted writers).

But sometimes, you get stuck on your own stuff. You get a lot of advice. Some people think a novel works, some think it doesn't. You've re-written it fifteen times. You're tired of it. No, you're so sick and nauseated when you're just THINKING about re-working that novel again, you've heard "you're a great writer, but that thing... just doesn't work", or "how dare you send this piece of suicide, drugs and irresponsible unsafe sex to US, you BEAST!", or "great character story, now where's the thriller you promised me?"

In one word, you have novel fatigue. It's not tiredness. It's not being without inspiration or drained. I think it might be closest to chronic fatigue syndrome. Just thinking about opening the file causes an immediate feeling of "I don't want to live anymore." Suddenly, taking up golf, or knitting, or cave diving become tantalizing prospects. Everything but open that file.

There's a project I feel like that about. I reached out to a pro for help. She quoted me a price, saying she was aware it was high and that she wouldn't mind if I pulled back and and all.

The money? Less than I make in a week, net. A bit more than I spend on food per month (can you tell I'm a cheap date?). I want to spend it so I know what the fuck is wrong with this book and how can I fix it. I want this off my plate. Getting rid of it - that is, getting it published - will be like therapy. It's a book that's been sticking in my throat like a bone. As nasty a feeling as an inflamed root of a tooth.

The book's been sticking around for 2 years now. I just want it gone. I don't even need a big contract for it. I just want to see it gone. I'll likely end up self-publishing it. So whatever I spend on it I'll likely never recover.

Doesn't matter.

Big reason for changing jobs? So I can afford to hire a pro. So I can put money in the pocket of good people, and acquire the help I need, and it won't break the bank. I just need an authoritative voice, a "definite" opinion of somebody I trust and who knows the market. And somebody who can answer questions I have about the book.

Might be one of the best deals I'll ever make.


  1. I like this... Sometimes one really needs to bite the bullet and just go for the hard expensive choice as that is really the only alternative if you want a objective, clear and consise opinion..

    I also understand your take on being tired of a thing but not tired in general - I have had that feeling about a few of my projects and most time an expert is the one to sort it out...

    All the best with project and fingers cross your pro make you better than you already are...


  2. If you can afford to do it... sounds like a totally smart move.