Well, the good news is White Mage Story is done. Finished last night and sent it off to its first candidate - Heroic Fantasy Quarterly - of which it's totally not qualified to be in. Much thanks to all the critiquers who helped out. I'm glad I sent it in for a second round of critique, if for nothing else then to help me realize that this was a good piece of polished prose.
The bad news (or good news, depending on how you think about it) is that now it's time to return to Black Hole Son. I've all the RFDRs back, so I can start making the third and "final" draft. But things are looking bleak. People are not interested in this story. One RFDR said she had trouble finishing because she lost interest by page 120 (out of 240). My wife still hasn't finished the book, she's only halfway through. And I have no idea when I gave it to her, but I don't think kids were out of school yet. This is the worst thing that can happen to a writer - people losing interest, and not finishing. People forget those kinds of books.
Also, my wife has cited the high preach factor, and the fact that it's not the story that it should be. It should be about two people trying to regain their identity, but it's about two people running around a city, getting into trouble. And the more I think about it, the more I realize the one inescapable conclusion.
Black Hole Son will never be published.
It's just not good enough to be published. It's not a good enough story. It's not enough of a story. It's too long. It's inconsistent in tone and style. It's just a bunch of preachy ramblings. It's not a candidate for "the BEST story", and publishers are looking for a candidate for "the BEST story" because "the BEST story" sells. Sure, there's some flash here and there, but it's not enough to carry 140,000 pages. It's not the novel people expect, which is why it will fail. And the problems inherent in the script are too deep to pull out. It would change it from the story I wanted to write. And don't tell me this is just negative thinking, that I have to have a positive outlook. I'm being realistic. It takes a perceptive man to realize failure.
But then I hear you say, "If it's not publishable, then why are you still working on it?" Because a good writer finishes what he starts. I owe it to the story to finish it. I owe it to the story to send it out. I owe it to myself, and all the time I've spent on it, to at least try. The story has merits, so there's a possibility that someone out there wants to buy it. And besides, any writing is writing. It's training. It's learning how to write better.
Here's the sad reality. In a recent poll, most published novelists did not sell their first novel. The good thing is that most published novelists did sell their second or third.
But I think the most important thing is to send feelers into the industry. Learn what it's like to send out a novel. It's what I did (and still am doing) with Avatar. I need to learn how to query. Learn what I'm doing wrong and right. Learn to accept rejections. Sometimes you got to lose to know how to win.