Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Do Your Homework

I'm sure it's probably sacrilege to portray a fictitious witch as a saint, but not being Catholic, I have to say I've found Hermione Granger a great deal more inspiring than any saint. Whenever I need the strength to keep my nose to the grindstone, I call upon her.

And it is indeed studious strength that I require, for I have had the phrase "do your homework" tossed at me quite a bit this past week. Specifically from multiple sources trying to convey the way to grab the attention of a publisher or agent. Writers, agents, what have you, constantly reciting that mantra to get would-be artists and writers to research a publisher's content and submission guidelines thoroughly before wasting their time on inappropriate submissions.

That's all well and good. We live in a world of rules that should be followed for good reason, nobody wants to waste anyone's time.

But that blasted phrase coming from them is an insult to homework. Which is loathsome enough in its own right.

I'm no stranger to homework. I remember having a ton of it over the course of my lengthy education. I understood it. I was good at it. In those days, homework was designed to reinforce concepts taught during class hours. Information was handed to you in 45 minute long digestible portions, and you took it home to further masticate it with critical thinking skills.

And you got grades for it. No matter how badly you misunderstood it or mangled it, the teacher HAD to grade it. You might get a bad grade, but it was a grade nonetheless. You got a reaction. In red ink. No matter what.

Publishers are under no obligation whatsoever to respond to you. You might have followed all the submission directions to the letter, and still you may hear nothing. You art or your story might be quite fine in its own right, in addition to be just the sort of subject the publisher deals with. But it just might not grab them. It might not be the right time in the current market, or any number of other prognosticated factors. Granted, you're not submitting to hundreds of publishers, but you're going to have to wade through the listings of hundreds of them to narrow your scope before the battle even begins! And I fully understand how many thousands of submissions each and every publisher must go through every day. It's not like a teacher grading 30 papers, it's like being expected to grade 300. And I've worked the art industry for a while now, I'm aware of how much garbage is out there. There's just a part of my brain that looks at the logistics of the industry and is screaming SURELY THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY!

It's not homework. It's hoses. The shear amount of information to be gone through is like trying to drink from a fire hose. A fire hose spraying violently from both ends at both the firemen and the...fire-ees? What I'm saying is it's incredibly daunting and I am having trouble even making a start, let alone finding the strength to muscle through the many years that, I've been told, still lay ahead of me before I get my "big break".

This probably sounded more like a rant than I meant to, just because I don't have the answer by the end of it. But you better believe I'll post it when I figure out the magic alchemy! In the meanwhile, I'll read all I can, I'll research, I'll work, I'll listen and absorb and experiment and do all the good things a student is supposed to do.

Just don't tell me to "do my homework". You're not my real mom, CAROL!

(TIL: There actually is a St. Hermione, but she is associated with healing, not logged library hours.)

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