I wasn’t going to blog this topic, but a couple of things happened that made me think to myself “what the hell.” And “maybe you should explain what’s going on.” As well as “you should post something, you know, so they don’t wander off and assume you’ve become one of the undead.”
First, I was contemplating this on the drive home last night and it seemed like it could be an important thing to mention. Then, later that night and again this morning, I was shown links to two other articles basically agreeing with my thoughts (and probably doing it with more eloquence, but you’re stuck with me, the potentially undead).
This post is about “Making it” as a writer. Both the myth and the reality of what it means to “make it” in writing/ publishing/ being an author, and being a success.
In an effort not to appear to be spewing sour grapes, I’m going to avoid a long diatribe about how I transitioned from joining an online writing forum, to having run screaming from them in search of my sanity. Suffice it to say — for those who might assume otherwise — I am fully versed in how Traditional Publishing really works. I’m properly informed in regards to agents, publishers, and bears, oh my!
There is a group out there who will label me as a failure. Someone who “couldn’t cut it in the real world.” A writer who gave up, wasn’t good enough, or didn’t have the discipline and/or patience required by this industry. As it happens – that’s not the case. (except that, sure, I’ve never been a very patient person).
The case, to be frank, is simply a matter of rediscovering my Happy Place.
It took a while. For a bit, I’d gone from happily writing away and enjoying the crap out of penning novels – to being completely and utterly embarrassed because I had, in the past, freely given away everything I wrote for the enjoyment of whoever wanted to read it. I had a passion then. A lust for writing. Not a day would go by that didn’t see me jotting notes, or spending hours at the keyboard, anxiously wondering what came next in whatever I was writing.
Then came a brief stint when I thought that — in order to continue, and in order to honestly consider myself a writer — I had to tuck in my shirt, put on a pencil skirt and white blouse, and follow the rules. I came to understand that in order to “be a success” I’d have to spend years struggling, writing, and practicing my hoop-jumping and ass-kissing skills.
Thank God I snapped out of that!
The other day, I told a friend of mine that I’d come to the belief publishing agents are like nipples on the batsuit. They give the appearance of being real, and necessary, but honestly they’re just bumps on a rubber costume. Now I’ve come to believe the same holds true for traditional publishing in general. If you think that’s sour grapes, it really isn’t. Go out there, get yourself a publishing contract with a small or large publisher – sign with an agent. I’ll shake your hand, congratulate you sincerely, and maybe even buy your book if it’s something I’d like.
I’ve come to a different conclusion, one that works for me. It definitely doesn’t appeal to everyone. I’ve made the decision to go back into the woods where the view is nice, the air a bit more clean, and I’ll stand a much better chance of seeing something different. The world is changing, and I’m more than happy to change along with it, but that means the ideals of having “made it” are changing, too.
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if bookstores will ever die out, and I don’t know if the internet is even going to stand the test of time. I don’t know if anyone wants to read what I write, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see myself on the shelves of Barnes & Noble in the future.
I don’t know if this venture of mine will succeed, or fail.
But I do know I’m moving forward. I do know I’m a really good writer. Not a great one, certainly not God’s gift to novels. But I am good. Much better than I was, and not as good as I will be.
I do know that anyone who finds my storytelling interesting, compelling, or just plain fun, will be able to read it all here for free. And for those of you who really like it, or prefer to have and hold, to be read away from the computer like I do, will be able to buy it in paperback and/or hardback as you see fit.
I won’t lie – I’m really hoping some of you buy it. My sister/housemate lost her job (thank you tanking economy) and right now I’m supporting the both of us. But we all know internet users like FREE better than sex, so I expect the vast majority of you will just come around here every Friday and read these novels a chapter at a time, gratis.
That’s fine by me. Posting the chapters free is not dependant on people buying a certain number of copies, or donating a certain amount of money. Once a novel starts to show up a chapter a time, it’ll keep showing up a chapter a time until it’s completed. I don’t show any fiction to anyone until it’s written, edited, and finished. So if you start reading, rest assured — barring the coming of the digital dark age, or the zombie hoard — you can keep reading until The End.
Agents, editors, publishing contracts, shelf space, advance checks, royalty payments – these don’t make a writer. These things, while a nice pad to the ego, don’t mean you’ve “made it”.