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Monday, November 16, 2009

Types Of Writing Satisfaction

I have found that there are two main types of writing satisfaction for me.

One is the act of finishing actually composing something in words. IE, either finishing the first draft of a story or article for the first time, or if not at that point, then the moment when you have finally finished the last re-write and are satisfied with the piece you have written.

The other type of satisfaction is actually submitting the work to a market. This usually occurs after having researched a market and finding the perfect home for your piece. There's a real sense of completion at that point which is different than the sense of completion you get when you actually create a story or article. (Note on this -- about half the time I write something first, then try to find a home for it, and the other half of the time, I know the home the writing is intended for and I write the piece with that market in mind) But regardless of which way I do it, there's still a degree of satisfaction with actually submitting the pieces.

It reminds me of a quote I saw last week on Twitter attribted to Greg Daugherty and which I quite liked.

"Rejected pieces aren't failures; unwritten pieces are."
- Greg Daugherty
I'll take the concept and modify it a bit to get to the second level of satisfaction and offer the following:

"Rejected pieces aren't failures; unsubmitted pieces are."

I know it might sound strange, but my "writing time" is spent within these two main chunks of time. Writing and Submitting. There are various levels of satisfaction related to each. But they definitely compliment one another.

Of course, now that I think about it, there are two other types of satisfaction related to the latter stages in writing -- they would be the satisfaction of making the sale, or having the work accepted by an editor and then the satisfaction of actually seeing the work "in print." I use the traditional "in print" phrase regardless of whether or not the work actually appears on a printed piece of paper, particularly given the fact that there are many electronic or online markets for writing lately and that in the last year, 3 of the 10 writing sales I made were to online markets.

Of course, another interesting factor related to the satisfaction is how each level of satisfaction builds upon the previous. There's an interesting sense of milestone accomplishment at each stage.

WRITING --> SUBMISSION --> ACCEPTANCE --> PUBLICATION

None of the later stages, of course, mean as much without the previous ones.

And while the satisfaction of the later stages can be large, they don't come without a huge degree of work and effort at the beginning. I'm trying to determine if the effort of work in the WRITING and SUBMISSION phase makes the level of satisfaction in the ACCEPTANCE and PUBLICATION phases any greater. And in all honesty, while it is VERY satisfying to have something I worked really hard at published, there are plenty of pieces of writing that I didn't spend much time on that I'm just as satisfied with when they got published.

Similarly, there are stories I had accepted the first time I sent them out and other stories that took half a full dozen cycles of submission to get into print. The satisfaction comes, I believe, in finding the "match" between story and editor.

And on a similar note, while the stages can build upon one another, because of the representation of more work and more effort, the later stages can also mean nothing without the work.

That is to say that, if, for some bizarre reason, I had something published that I didn't actually write (ie, perhaps been given credit for something I didn't do), it wouldn't have ANY meaning to me. Or if I wrote a bit of fluff that was published without actually being accepted, it doesn't mean as much (ie, this blog post didn't have to be vetted by an editor before it was published, so while there is satisfaction in the writing and submission of it, there's limited joy in the publication of it because there was no hurdle to overcome to make it to publication . . .

. . . of course, on that note, when it comes to writing that isn't vetted by a third party, such as blog posts, podcasts, etc where I can simply PUSH my content out to the world without having first had to convince an editor it was worthy of being shared, the satisfaction might come not from having achieved publication, but rather from acceptance of readers (ie, either the fact that the writing HAS actually been read and potentially commented on, etc)

That inverts my process a bit perhaps to something like this:

WRITING --> SUBMISSION --> PUBLICATION --> ACCEPTANCE

Hmm, and if you can't tell that this post (like most of my blog posts) is a rough draft that I simply compose then push out, then let it be known that I'm working out this simple concept as I write it, because I just realized that I completely forgot the 5th level of satisfaction from this writer's perspective. The CONSUMPTION and reaction of readers. I'll call this level REVIEW because it's shorter, even thought it doesn't necesarrily mean a "review" in the traditional sense of a "book review", but rather the fact that the writing is reviewed or consumed and potentially reacted upon. Again, it might be a traditional "review" or merely comments made by readers, or even the knowledge that it is being consumed (in the case of number of copies sold, number of times something is downloaded, subscribed to, etc)

So here are the 5 levels of satisfaction I have stumbled into through this meandering "first draft."

WRITING --> SUBMISSION --> ACCEPTANCE --> PUBLICATION --> REVIEW

Hmm. I might be on to something here. In any case, I'm satisfied with having toyed with these concepts and written something that I believe has at least a bit of merit. (This post has been a great warm-up writing exercise for an article that I plan on working on for a traditional market for my work) While I don't gain much satisfaction from the submission or publication process (hitting "PUBLISH POST" is easy and publication is instant, I might perhaps gain some satisfaction if this post inspires comments or reaction from readers)

So to that effect, to all the writers out there, let me know your thoughts. Am I being too simple? Too complex? What do you think? Similarly, readers -- what are your thoughts about this POV of the process from one writer?

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