Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Forbidden Love

Today I’m going over an old manuscript. And not just any manuscript, the manuscript Liz with Aliens told me to not give up on or she’d hunt me down with a pointy stick until I got it published (I don't forget that sort of thing). I’ve written this story several times. Sweet Mother of Mountains, I have lived this story (well, not in the I-followed-the-fae-through-the-portal literally sense, but the laid awake at night hoping and dreaming about it).

This is a good representation of my Portal Feels.
The only problem: It’s a story with portals. Confession, when Glados said “Now you’re thinking in portals,” I laughed. Portals are my very favorite subtype of fantasy. Person from our world goes and has adventure in another world. I never stopped thinking in portals. As a kid, I dreamed and wished that I’d cross under a rainbow, or find a magic wardrobe (I didn’t even really know what those were because we didn’t have them in the US). The premise for most of the media I consumed as a child was “Young person finds way into magical world, has adventure, gains self esteem, and returns to this world a better stronger person.” Unicorns featured prominently.

Portals are my first love. So it’s no surprise that I have a portal story (an epic quadrilogy, to be exact).

It’s also no surprise that my story hasn’t really been the top of my “Polish this up and send it off to agents” list because I always try to keep market in mind.

It’s a portal story. At the end of the day, no agent is going to want to pick up a portal story because they are universally panned in the world of publishing. There are so many, after all. And what makes mine so special--that's actually a long story, but it starts with a jewish girl from a small town. Oh, wait, that's not what they mean. They mean how is it different from all the other portal stories. 

Did I mention the MC is Jewish? right, religious representation isn't enough because it's a freaking portal story. 


There are so many portal stories, that I’ve been sitting on this manuscript for almost two years. It’s just been rotting away on my hard drive. There’s a part of me that says that’s where it should stay, but the little girl inside me who dreamed about catching rainbows so she could go to where the unicorns live wants to pull this story out and take it for another ride.

So why do I feel so guilty working on a portal story?

What about you guys? How do you feel when you are in love with an unmarketable idea? Do you chase it down and watch it bloom, or have you mastered the cold places in your heart and put your zombie-unicorn-portal-dystopian into the morgue where all the publishing peeps says it belongs?


  1. I don't think I've ever written anything that was obviously marketable. I work on the stories I love, and try my best to find them a home.

    You don't sound like you're going to give up on this book any time soon, so make it the best portal story ever and then query the hell out of it!!

  2. Well. I wrote a portal story and sold it. And then got it back, and am now self-publishing it. Because the way I see it, there has to be at least a thousand people out there who'd read a portal story I wrote. No matter what publishers say.

    Honestly, they don't know what's going to sell and what won't. If they did, their whole list would be bestsellers. So let's just assume your story is awesome. I'd read it, because Portal Fantasy is my love as well. ;-)

  3. Replies
    1. I'm working on it. I haven't given up! Not the pointy stick!

    2. *helps Liz sharpen more sticks*

  4. I know you remember the quote I posted last week about writing whatever the fuck you want. I know that was about criticism, but I think it applies to pretty much the entirety of this whole writing thing. I've always thought you get the best work out of creative people when they're doing what they want and they LOVE it. If that's what this portal fantasy is for you, then write it. Write the hell out of it. And make it so good they can't say no.

    On a less determinative note, I've got a portal fantasy of my own completely plotted. So you're not alone in this. ^_^

  5. You know I've struggled with this for a lot of my ideas (zombies, premonitions, chosen ones) so rather than just commiserate, I'll tell you what James Scott Bell told me when I posted on his blog (every Sunday on The Kill Zone) almost a year ago about this very same thing:

    "...if it's a story you love, you find a way to tell it with originality and passion. Dig deeper into character. Find your voice and let it flow."

    You can read this as advice coming down from on high, because I do. I remind myself that even if I'm writing about yet another chosen one, I'm telling it in a way that's never been done before. The character, her history, the back story, my own writing style, the voice...everything about the idea makes this story your own. So even if you're using a trope that's been done before, such as portals, you can still do them with finesse.

    AND AND AND since this idea calls to you so much, and you're not just tossing it in there for giggles, you have a much better chance of producing something amazing and awesome than someone who just says, "meh, let's throw a portal into this story. Portals are in right now."

    So now go far and revise PS because the world wants to read that story. Portals are awesome for a reason, and they're not going to go away.

  6. My son made a very good point the other day- writers like Edgar Allen Poe (and many others, but I'm too lazy to look it up) were prolific writers who dies penniless. They didn't write for money or markets, they wrote out of compulsion and love.

    (Okay, so being penniless isn't our goal, but just because something isn't a huge selling market favorite doesn't mean it's not of value.)

  7. the first portal story i remember reading was the white gold weilder series by donaldson, other awesome faves are Split Infinity by Piers Anthony (<3) and of course, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe!!

    Portal stories are awesome! why cant they make a comeback??
    my chick lit story holds a place in my heart - and i will come back to it when chick lit comes back...maybe! i think everything goes in cycles - don't you? scientist lady??

  8. portal stories will come back around. And i'm betting sooner rather than later.


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