I’m back at my desk before 9:30 on a cloudy Wednesday morning in July. I have my large pot of Starbuck bold brew and I’m ready to get back to work. However, I’m at the blog, typing this out instead of re-reading what I should have been working on in June. Why? It’s what I do. If I could get by with having a pill for ADHD each morning that would make me obediently sit at my desk, I’d have it made. Heck, we all would, wouldn’t we?
What is it about the self-esteem of someone creative that gives them the drive to go on? I was telling Steve the other day that now that I’m older, there is so much less that I worry about anymore. It’s a good thing, but sometimes it pulls me into an apathetic state that says, “Really, what’s the point?” There are so many people in this world and what we contribute is so small compared to the gamut of books being written every day. How small my contribution must be when I think about the largeness of it all.
Of course we all have the same answer to the question of why we write: because we have to. It’s true. I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t write something (blog entries included) and I’m constantly thinking up of new projects. But there’s a life we lead as well and getting bogged down in trying to make a living off what we do is not only dismal, it’s near to impossible. Granted, I’m not working and this is what I do because I don’t have a place that exchanges money for my showing up to do tasks. That’s just the way things worked out. And those of us who do work know we want to write so much more if we had the time.
As long as we’re writing something each day, I think we’re okay because we’re doing it out of love. It’s the same reason we work at schools and libraries – we love it. We’re making our impact on the world in amounts that we may not see in huge, golden pieces of money but we’re doing what we’re meant to do. That’s our reward.
But everyone wants to have a best selling book, a published book, a book which is critically acclaimed (my wish) or just one which sells. But let’s think about what is best-selling or what books are popular. It’s no secret that the Twitter society of writers, book reviewers, and librarians just can’t stand the latest book phenomenons. They’re badly written. I remember reading someone’s blog post saying that anyone who doesn’t get paid to be a book critic and says a popular author is a “bad writer” is just sour grapes. No. Knowing good writing and bad writing is something we should be able to identify. Why, as a writer, would you suggest that writers think otherwise?
So best-sellers are sometimes not very well written. Published books are often very well written but lack uniqueness. Once in a while we find some gems of literary genius and we celebrate. (Those are the ones we should be looking out for.) So, what does this mean for self-published books? When I read some independent novels, I felt they were in the same class (or above) some other books that were in print through a high profile publisher. But they were all kind of the same and it became very tedious to read the same plot over and over. To me, there’s nothing that really says anything about yourself if you’re trying to follow the same lines as other popular books. Yes, we like them, but we have our own unique take on the world, so it’s important that we keep that in mind when trying to create our own masterpiece.
Anyway, I had just been thinking about how writers are looking at what they do. I see far, far too many Twitter accounts that are nothing but book promotion. It saddens me to think that this is what writing has ended up being. There were few great writers in the past 200 years some of the lived in poverty. It isn’t anything new that we should be working for very little profit but now we have millions of people across the globe trying to sell their work. We now have an even larger pool to swim in because the publishers’ desks are full and Amazon is full with books that are self-published. It’s not easy but we do it because we want to. Remember that.
J.K. Rowling suggested writers keep a day job while they wait through rejections and self-published authors make less than $500 for their books. It can never be about the money. It has to be about doing what you feel is your purpose on this Earth to do.