Friday, July 28, 2017


Mentor image

I'm not a great writer, and never will be. Please, don't object – this isn't false modesty, just realism.

I'm a competent writer, with excellent nuts and bolts skills. Give me a theme and I can spin a plausible yarn that will amuse or arouse my readers. My plots are for the most part believable and consistent, without the truck-sized holes one sometimes sees. My sentences generally read well. My characters might not jump off the page, but they're not cardboard either.

Still, I know I'll never win awards, never be called a genius, never write something that will change my readers' lives. I just don't have anything that important to say – possibly because I've lived nearly six decades without experiencing any great trauma or tragedy. My tales aren't mindless smut, but they don't have the emotional or moral depth of great literature. They're basically throw-away entertainment. When I die, I will not leave an enduring body of work behind me. Oh, I've got a pretty long back list, don't get me wrong, and I hope it will continue to grow, but I doubt that anyone will have heard of Lisabet Sarai ten or twenty years in the future.

That's one reason why I work so hard on behalf of other authors, especially those new to the publishing game. Maybe, just maybe, one of the authors for whom I do crits or whom I edit will turn out to be a truly Great Author. And then I'll feel as though I've done a bit to help make that happen. 


I'm better at mentoring and critiquing than I am at writing, and believe me, I realize these are valuable skills. I try to apply them for the benefit of my colleagues. I know a few authors whom I really admire, who truly have the GA Potential, but still have difficulties with grammar, or pacing, or coherency. I'm pleased when I can assist them in smoothing the rough edges of their jewels. 


Sometimes I fantasize about winning the Pulitzer Prize. Hey, I'd be thrilled with an EPPIE! My identity isn't tied up in those dreams, though. I've always written, but I never envisioned myself as a Writer with a capital 'W'. So honestly, it doesn't bother me – too much – to acknowledge my limitations.

If one of the authors I've worked with, though, won a prize, I'd be over the moon. I imagine their work, becoming classics, receiving the accolades they so justly deserve. If that ever happened, well, that would be my true legacy – not the slick and superficial novels and stories I list on my website.

And honestly, I'm okay with that. I don't need fame to be happy – luckily, since I'll never be famous. The knowledge that I've contributed to the creation of something with lasting value is enough.


Fiona McGier said...

What constitutes a great writer? To me, it's someone who can craft a story that I truly enjoy reading, that stays with me after I put it down, and that I'm anxious to recommend to friends because I want them to have the same joyful experience. Not to appear like too much of a butt-kisser, but I felt that way about your "Gazillionaire and the Virgin" book. I tried to get everyone I know to read it!

Will any of us be remembered as great writers? As you say, doubtful, since we're not making a fortune for publishing houses or for ourselves. But in looking around at those who are, I'm staggered by the amount of hacks who got lucky. So I guess there really isn't any fairness in life, as I tell my kids, and good things happen to undeserving people, and bad things happen to those we admire.

Life is random. Accepting it is easier than railing against this immutable fact.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Fiona! What a pleasure to see you at my blog.

I do think I'm a good writer... but I'm really not sure my books are substantial enough to stand the test of time.

Thanks for the plug for G&V! (I need all the help I can get!)

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