Why publish?

When we put so much time, effort, and – if we’re doing it right – ourselves into our writing, it’s hard not to yearn for a sense of validation beyond our own quiet sense of achievement. Perhaps some of us have friends and family who read what we write and say lovely, encouraging things, which is wonderful, but many of us want more. We want the recognition of those outside our personal circle. We may even have the crazy idea of getting money for doing the thing we love.

And why not? Writing is hard work, to do it well takes time, skill, effort. Creativity is a valuable commodity, especially when merged with discipline and the tenacity to see a project through to its completion. The ability to tell a story that is entertaining, enlightening, illuminating, or simply fun, is a talent worthy of reward.

But for those considering transitioning their writing from private hobby to public commodity, the mind may be flooded with doubts and questions: Am I ready? Am I good enough? Can I produce a reasonable volume of saleable work? Will I succeed? Will I fail? Will I become discouraged? Should I try and cater to popular tastes, or would that be selling out?

These are what I see as the primary issues. Enough fear and doubt to dim anyone’s lights, I’d say. [Cracks knuckles] Let’s see if we can tackle them…

Am I ready? – Immaterial. You feel the need to try, that’s all the justification required. You’re ready to give it your best shot, and that’s enough.

Am I good enough? – Irrelevant. You will *never* be good enough according to your own standards, but it’s only other people’s standards that you need to meet, and their preferences are outside of your control. Do your best, put it out there, and see what happens.

Can I produce a reasonable volume of saleable work? – Presumptive. Sell something first, then revisit the issue. If finishing things is a challenge for you, which is not at all uncommon, perhaps acceptance/payment will turn out to be the spur you need.

Will I succeed? – Undoubtedly. Finish the story, send it off. Then you will have succeeded in all that is within your control. Anything after that is pure bonus.

Will I fail? – Balderdash. You only fail if you fail to try. Totally up to you.

Will I become discouraged? – Certainly. Then you will think of another market to try, or receive encouragement from elsewhere, and you will become undiscouraged. That’s the fun of it.

What if I’m tempted to sell out? – I don’t think there’s anything wrong in going out for burgers rather than filet mignon. Just as long as you don’t devalue or compromise the quality of your work based on your view of the market it is directed towards. It’s hard enough working on things you *want* to write. Why struggle to create something you wouldn’t even want to read? This is why I would never suggest dumbing down your writing. Do your best, always, even if you *are* writing stereo instructions. Make them the most inspirational, breathlessly evocative stereo instructions ever conceived. Whatever you do, find a way to be true to *you*.

Writing for money is a challenging business, but don’t ever let that stop you moving forward. Be patient, be persistent, be professional, and you will be published.

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About erikawilson

Aspiring author in search of a voice that other people will enjoy listening to.
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4 Responses to Why publish?

  1. Lydia Kurnia says:

    Ah, I ask myself this all the time in the past what, five, six months? But my question’s gone to why bother? Writing is so freakin haaaarrrrrd!

    Your post is very timely, sweetie. *hugs* Sometimes all we, writers, need is just that: encouragement, to persist even in the face of diificulties and rejections. It helps when you have other people believing in you, understanding the craziness of the process, sharing the same fears, always ready to shut away that jeering doubts whispering at the back of your head.

    We have to understand too that writing is an art, that it is subjective. One agent’s/editor’s/reader’s slush may be another’s treasure. Don’t bother trying to please everybody, if you have written what you love, at least you have pleased yourself and that’s important, because your passion will shine through your work. If other people don’t like it, it’s their fault, not yours 😉

    I’m going to add one more concern I always have: what if I hate it after I’m published? Not the project particularly, but writing itself? Because it does burn you out and sometimes makes you feel like the most useless person ever lived. I think the answer is you probably will, but like a good friend, it may come and go, and I betcha, the love (itch?) will never go away.

    Now the trick is to learn to say ‘I’m awesome!’ without cringing….

    Love your post, sweetie. Keep ’em coming!

  2. Noel Williams says:

    I agree with you that writing is hard work, but it is also fun. I’m reading the Glamour of Grammar to help me with my writing. I am new to WordPress and I am trying to make a good impression.

  3. erikawilson says:

    Thank you, sweetie. And you *are* awesome ;). I think the burnout we feel is all part of the creative process. Art is about breaking down what exists to make room for something else to come into being. It is about making choices and decisions – about deciding what stays, what goes, what survives, what does not. It *is* hard, and exhausting, and makes us doubt ourselves every step of the way.

    But as in baseball – the hard is what makes it *good*.

  4. Fran says:

    Great post. Pragmatic, realistic and uplifting 🙂

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