I would like to present a hypothesis today that we are crazy (at least in part) due to lack of definition in our field. IE- it's not completely our fault :).
For today’s demonstration I will present two scenarios with similar goals:
Graduate student (with thesis as the final “product”) and Fiction writer (with agent/editor/published book as final product)
We’ll start with the graduate student (Example is for a Psychology program- so don’t go jumping in my face that yours was different- work with me!)
Step one: GRE- ok for folks who haven’t experienced this little monster of modern day horror, count yourself lucky. This test is designed to measure skills you supposedly learned in your undergraduate studies (right ;)). It’s a messy test with no real validity (in terms of predicating success in graduate school) but it’s required for most programs. Point is- it makes it more difficult to get in (in theory ;))
Step two: You are accepted into the program. You engage in structured seminars that are aimed at creating, proposing, and defending your thesis. There are paid professionals there to guide you.
Step three: You design, propose, conduct (or research), and defend your thesis. Again, paid professionals send you back to the drawing board with concrete examples of what didn’t work. Repeatedly.
Step four: Thesis is successfully defended and goes on to live happily in the campus library (or submitted to an academic journal, but we won’t go there ;).
Step five: The graduate student graduates and much celebrating is heard throughout the land.
Step one: No test, no criteria, no nothing. You string words together, anyone can do it.
Step two: You flounder about, trying to find out the “rules”…find out there are three but no one can agree what they are. You go crazy re-editing your work every time it comes back from a contest or critique group…
Step three: You finish book, you send out queries and get form letter responses- when you get a response.
Step four: You repeat step three. Maybe moving up to “thanks but no thanks” letters with your name. Still not sure what you’re doing wrong.
Step five: You either start digging your way through the junk, to find ways of getting and understanding feedback. Through trial and error you find helpful writing resources and groups. You contemplate going Indie and all the hard work and funds that entails. Or you give up.
Step six: You keep at it, what choice do you have?
The sad thing is, and the part that makes us crazy- is path two sounds better ;)
So what do you all think? Are we crazy? Or just devilishly clever?