Friday, May 10, 2013

Single Point of Failure

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
Morgue File--JDurham
It’s definitely nice to be needed.  Recently, however, I’ve been needed pretty frequently.  I took on additional responsibilities and additional projects.
I was filling my husband in on all the things I was in charge of and responsible for.  He listened, nodding, as I listed everything.
He’s a computer engineer and has a different take on the world.  “Do you know what we call that at work?”
I shook my head.
“Single point of failure.” 
Apparently, there was a whole world of instances of SPOF (single point of failure) that I knew very little about.  Wikipedia describes SPOF as:  a part of a system that, if it fails, will stop the entire system from working. (1: Designing Large-scale LANs – Page 31, K. Dooley, O'Reilly, 2002)
So, if I were hit by a train on the way to the grocery store, it would result in the failure of a whole bunch of things that I was responsible for.
Writing a single book and hanging our entire writing career on that book, for instance, is a SPOF.
I’ve written on this topic before, most recently on Wednesday.  That’s because I know a couple of writers who loved writing.  Avid readers, avid writers.  They wrote and published (both traditionally) the “book of their hearts.”  Unfortunately, the books sold poorly and they were dropped by their publishers.  They both gave up writing.
If you love to write, if you really want to be published and have any sort of success, it’s important to keep writing, keep learning, keep improving at the craft.  There are many reasons why a book might not resonate with readers—some of them are even the fault of the publisher (cover design, distribution).  Maybe the timing was wrong for the book—it wasn’t a popular genre at the time.  Or maybe the fault was in our writing—the characters didn’t connect with the reader, there wasn’t enough conflict, there was too much backstory.  The only way to solve problems with our writing is to continue practicing. 
Another great thing about working on a second book is that it keeps us distracted while we’re in the process of querying or waiting for publication of the first.  It’s also a nice way to keep from obsessing over a single book’s sales figures (checking our book’s ranking too much can drive us nutty.)
What are you working on now?