• Andrew Johnston

EMPATHY - Writelog 01

I have a problem. I seem to be addicted to failure.


A few years ago I said that the final revision of The Fabulist would be the last big writing project I'd ever work on, as the market was obviously tilting against me. Ignoring my own advice, I wrote a novel, and promptly proved my own hypothesis when it failed harder than anything I've ever done.


And now I'm working on a new project, and this one is doomed as well. I'll even count off all the reasons no one will ask to see it:

  1. It doesn't open on a track start, which I've learned through painful experience is critical with agents. The way the submission process works, you've got - at best - a few paragraphs to win the agent, so that first few pages had better have an explosive start. Mine starts with a conversation.

  2. It's epistolary. The epistolary form is about as old as the novel itself, yet editors continue to treat it as though it's some bizarre, unworkable gimmick. If I try to sell it as young adult (which I theoretically could), then this will burn me even harder as editors are really prone to underestimate teenagers.

  3. It's bound to offend someone. This is not an edgy project in any sense; however, in the current environment, agents are prone to view everything through the lens of politics first and foremost, something many of them do proudly. There are topics in this project that are going to offend and/or patronize someone no matter what I do.

Add to this the fact that this, by far, the most personal project I've ever tackled, and one might be inclined to ask why the hell I'm doing it.


The answer: Apparently, I'm addicted to failure.


More to come.

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