People sometimes complain about the challenges of the slush pile. Today, Mark Terry blogged about the difficulty in catching an agent's or editor's eye today. Sometimes this is amidst of complaints about the business, and sometimes not. While I hear the frustration and how discouraging this business can be, I'd like to an alternative interpretation.
The state and existence of the slush pile can drive our writing and our genres to a higher level.
The other day, I noticed that Robert Gregory Browne's release is in a couple weeks. I was trying to figure out if I was going to get it right away or get it on my next Borders Rewards Day, so I went and read his excerpt.
Wow. Tight. Rhythmically perfect. Not just from word to word or sentence to sentence, but the overall pacing of the conflict over the first 14 or so pages. (That's all that's in his excerpt.)
Top that off with a kick-ass concept, and you've got magic.
And only a few days--weeks?--ago, I was blown away by the vivid world-building of Marcus Sakey, with his perfect details in the excerpt of The Blade Itself. (I finally made them dig his book up in the back! I'm sure I'm going to be blogging about it!)
Last year, I popped by and read Marc Lecard's excerpt from Vinnie's Head. What voice! It's quirky fiction with a capital F. In our seemingly recent quest for realism in novels, I miss those Fiction novels.
(Note to self: "they" are right when they say one needs a website up as SOON as the deal is announced, or at least within weeks. And second note to self: have an excerpt up.) Only three killer authors have excerpts up!
Look what these talented folks are doing for the thriller genre! The competition and the difficulty in breaking into the market has pushed the standards up quite a bit. An established author doesn't need to outdo himself quite as much as a newbie; a new author, in order to get published, almost needs to be better than what's come before.
As I've always contended, we need each other to push each other to higher and higher levels. An author alone can only improve himself so much.
Speaking of an author alone, there's a great (albeit loooong) article in The Guardian, Fail Better, about (among other things) how readers are every bit as responsible as writers for making great literature. Great article!
When I first saw Killer Year, I thought, what a nice idea. What a nice idea for these new authors to be mentored by these great writers. What a nice idea for them to get together and blog.
I am so very inspired. I feel grateful for the amazing standards and the difficulty in getting into and staying in this business. It's definitely making me a better writer! Now let's just pray it makes us all good enough to write great books!