Real Writer: Why We Can't Give Up, Even When We Want To
I've talked over the last few weeks about how I've been feeling as a writer and how my frustrations with the publishing world have made me less than nice to myself lately. Any person who works in a creative industry knows what it's like to experience failures, setbacks and disappointments, and the key to overcoming them is learning to deal with these things inside our own heads and hearts. I want to be a humble, honest writer who puts humble, honest words on paper. But, getting caught up in the "glitz and glam" of the publishing industry can sometimes obscure the path I should be on. The more I've thought about where I am, where I want to be, and where I want to go, the more I have realized that the journey is probably more important than the destination. The trials and tribulations that I face are what shape the kind of writer I am.
But being an author isn't all about the art of writing stories. It's also about the business of being a published author. There are all the considerations in publishing that there are in running a small business. Marketing, publicity, branding, platform, and ROI are just a few of the areas of the business side of writing that authors have to learn about. I started thinking about what I would do if I was feeling this frustrated about some other kind of small business, and I decided that I needed more education and a better plan. When something doesn't work you mark it off the list and go at the problem from another angle. The one thing you can't do is give up on the long-term goal. The expectations and overall focus may change but the goal is still the same: write stories that entertain reader and leave them a little happier than they were before they read them.
The publishing market may never return to the "good old days" when self-published and small press indie authors were blazing the way across the internet and the e-book landscape. As the market and the technology that supports it gets more complicated, there are always people out there ready to scam the system. Every platform, every possible way you could ever imagine of gaming the system is being done, and new ways to cheat are invented every day. This makes it harder for the honest author to find, keep and entice a readership. This increases the frustrations of all the authors who do things the legal way and get buried under the mountains of scammers out there. Just this year I've read 20 blog posts from authors across the genres who are saying their goodbyes to the publishing world. This is the saddest possible outcome. Believe me, I have been there. I AM THERE. There are days that I want to pull my blankets over my head and pretend that I never heard of Amazon, Kindle, KDP and any other publishing term. But, there are reasons I can't quit.
First- I'm not a quitter. I'm a whiner. I'm a groucher. I'm a complainer and a drama queen. But I'm not a quitter. No matter how bad things get, no matter how hard they are, and no matter how pointless it all seems, I won't quit. My pride, my stubborn Southern personality, they won't let me.
Second- It's not fair to the readers. I'm not saying I'm the best writer in the world or that me NOT writing a book would negatively affect the future-- but if every author who encountered this tidal wave of self-doubt and difficulty quit-- I think that we readers would really be missing out on amazing stories. Stories that might say the right words to us at just the time we need them. It's sad to think that we might never read them when we need them.
Third-I'm a writer. When I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night I think about writing. So NOT writing is out of the question. And, I figure, if I'm writing it I might as well publish it. (see #2)
Finally-I am a role model for my daughters. If I give up, if I quit, I am saying to them that it's okay to let frustration and adversity stop us from doing what we love to do. One of my daughters wants to write, and I'm very honest with her. I've encouraged to her to make sure she has a way to earn money because writing is never a guaranteed way to pay your rent. But, she should never NOT do something because it's hard. That's exactly the reason she should do it. Climb the mountain, swim against the tide, tackle the pushback. Kick ass. Be a doer, not a quitter.
So-- I guess that after all my introspection I've discovered that I'm not getting out of this so easily after all. I can't just put everything behind me and call it a phase. I can't just drop the pen and say "sayanara." Readers might not read my books in droves. I might go weeks, months or years without sales, but every sale, every review, every reader who finds me--that's a win.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to hang around to see what comes next. I'm still writing. I'm still planning and plotting... and most of all, I'm still trying.