So, there’s a little more to my Donald Maass epiphany…
A while ago, just after I started learning a little bit about the publishing business, I ran into him. Not him, really. That would be worthy of, like, a whole post. With pictures. As it is, I met him through an interview I stumbled upon by Andrea Campbell. So no pictures.
I was looking up something brilliant, I’m sure, on my local library system’s completely illogical online catalog. You know the one – where you type in ‘penguins’ and wind up with a copy of Sherlock Holmes waiting for you downtown. Well, I was looking for something agent related, possibly “What is an agent?” when up popped an article about this agent of the woo-woo status. Halos and whatnot floating around his head, big flashing neon signs proclaiming him the golden boy of publishing. Whatever. All lost on me.
But what wasn’t lost was his take on publishing, and his quest for great stories. He gave me hope. Maybe I could be not just a writer, but a published writer someday. If agents like him existed, and he really was as dedicated to real writing as he said he was, maybe the business wasn’t as imprisoned to Hollywood as I thought. I printed it out. The name itself stuck in my head only because of the weird spelling. The idea pushed me to take my writing a lot more seriously. And then, like the flower you identify and then find that it is absolutely everywhere (when you know it wasn’t before), Donald Maass was everywhere I looked. Big name in publishing. I was getting that. I even ordered one of his books. And then set it aside so I could read all the other people’s books from the library. I could get to his anytime, after all.
And so it was one of those funny moments when I numbly picked up his book last week, strung out on my last vestiges of hope, and his words would again speak right to my writer’s heart. Great writing matters. There are a million things that can make it great, but in the end, without the great story, you have nothing.
So, again, I set sail on the writer’s voyage, working in bits and pieces of this and that, improving my voice, battling with POV, mediating the war between multiple heroes fighting for center stage, and trying desperately to fit the whole darned thing into a tried and true skeletal system, all the while reminding myself that all the tools are wielded for naught without the great story. Some day, when I actually bring this thing to final copy, I might just drop a line to my pal, Don.