Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Oh, To Be A Balanced Writer

This is me. Speaking to a large group of readers. It's part of what I do. But it's not really who I am. Although I enjoy speaking in public, I'm a writer who speaks. Not a speaker who writes.
Writers must find comfort in their own work. In what they write. Even a small amount. Agreed, we must first be a reader to become a good writer ... but sometimes ... it's good to pick up your own work and read it. For the fun of it. For the comfort of it. Don't try to rewrite what's already published, just enjoy it as a reader. Here's why:
Perfection is an impossibility. During the writing process, you can strive for it, but obsessing over perfection is like trying to walk on water. You're not Jesus. Believe me, when I say I struggle with perfection. To the point that it's painful.

We're constantly bombarded and overwhelmed by the industry and it's changes. By the plethora of writing information on the Internet, social media, and every new book published on writing. At some point in your career, you feel as though you must read and study it all.

It's impossible.

What gives a writer a leg up? Is it a degree and a fancy teaching position? A long list of popular published books by Random House? A presenter spot on writing conference rosters across the country, proving your expertise to the wannabes?

It looks good on a resume. I'll give you that. It may even raise a few literary eyebrows when it appears on your book proposal or query.

But is it enough? Is it a guarantee of success?

Writers must maintain. Although some well-knowns are continually guaranteed a spot on bestseller lists, you're probably not one of them. (You know who these folks are.) Early in their career they blew straight to the top, selling thousands and making millions. They made their publishers rich. So they're guaranteed those coveted bestseller spots, resting on bitter laurels. Amazingly enough, readers feel safe spending their book money on yet another novel by ... well ... you know the Walmart list. Costco. Kmart. Walgreen's. Target.

Other than the Walmart author, how many writers are secure in their career direction?

Few, if any.

So where does that leave us?

The apostle Paul said to be content in every situation. Can we attain even a measure of contentment on our journey to publish?

We must be content to just ... write.

I'm not saying don't bother studying the industry. Not at all. But don't be consumed by it. At some point you must trust that someone else has your back. Someone of your choosing must take the reins, fill in the gaps, and help you once the book is written. You can't do it all. It's impossible. And stop feeling guilty about it. Unless you have some well-deserved help, that slippery thing we call publicity is going to slip through the cracks. You're a writer. You need to research, outline, and write that next book. Doesn't matter if you self-publish or have landed a contract with one of the Big 6. (Or is it 5 now?) You've got to find a trusted individual who will make the connections with your agent, editors, reporters, and book those appearances for you.

You're only one person, after all. Quit whining about it.

This morning, I found comfort in the pages of Televenge. Other than reading in public from chosen chapters, it's been a while since I've flipped through the chapters and randomly read from my own book. I found a great deal of comfort there as I recalled the struggle for finding the right word, and how I cried at the end of certain scenes or when finishing that first draft. It all came back to me, the journey of that book. The warm feelings of security in knowing ... I'm a writer.

I'm well aware of the push for writers to "get out there and build that platform!" Well, yeah. It's a necessary evil. We got to work our tail off. Right. Heard it. Something we're destined for, like it or not. So you might as well buck up. You must meet your readers. Get out there and speak, no excuses, on social media sites and up close and personal. Which is why this profession is not for everybody who thinks they have a book in them. But at some point, we got to find a balance.

We have to hold on to those words ... I write.

And be at peace.

Blessings to you and yours.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Great post, Pam. I decided my resolution for this new year is to just write. Stop worrying about how many subscribers, or followers, or comments, or what hash tag will generate even more followers. And just write. It's liberating.