This is a bit of a rambling update. Be forewarned.
Writing is something that everyone wants to do, so it seems, but it holds some negative connotations in mainstream society. I think part of this is derived from the fact that anyone can publish anything, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a good piece of literature/writing. I currently have my children’s book with illustrations completed, sitting in my lap. There is the compelling urge to want to self-publish because I am eager to share something that I worked on with so much passion with the world. Yet, there is the stinging realization that I could self-publish it and then not be taken seriously as a real writer. On the other note, there are many writers that self-publish (whom I have bought books from) that are great writers! So, why is there this impending fear or feeling of doom if I self-publish?
I think it comes down to three things perceived about writing (adapted from Write To Done):
- It’s intangible – Writing is not always acknowledged as a real job, because there are so many that claim to “write” but have little to show for it after days at a keyboard (or with pen and paper). I have personally done ghostwriting, but I do not have anything to show for my writing thus far. I do not have anything published, including no poems or articles in magazines. There are some that spend years writing and only have a small book or a single publication to show for it. I, myself, have been writing for years and do not even have that. Excuse me, while I hang my head.
- It’s unpaid – Most writers have blogs or similar feeds of social media where they give away their writings for free. Even after spending hours a day piecing together the words that they hand over to viewers, they don’t receive a single dime. Obviously, I have a place on my blog where people can donate (as though they had purchased something I have written), but this is not regularly if ever used by readers. It is accepted that, in our world, if you’re not paid for something then it is a hobby and an unnecessary indulgence. Yet, many writers create a blog as a necessary career move.
- It’s intellectual – Most people may not think the creative mind is an intellectual mind, but it definitely meets the criteria. Writers may not be out laboring physically, but they are working extremely hard to bring across characters that readers enjoy in a world that is worth exploring. I have spent hours researching numerous topics to be assured that my writing captures realistic frameworks of people and worlds. In addition, it is mentally laboring to find internal motivation to keep writing until you finish the work, especially with the understanding it may never make it past the doorstep of you home. (I have trashed many novels that I spent years writing because they were not ready to be published.)
I have not engaged in much ‘writing’ over the past several weeks, much to my dismay. I may have completed 15,000 words or so total on a couple novels, which doesn’t include the thousands upon thousands of words of correspondence between e-mails to fellow writers. The past couple weeks have been full of proofreading and reading other author’s works to deliver them feedback on their own craft. I find that I enjoy doing this as a past-time, even when I am not writing, because it helps me recognize my own writing techniques, both positives and negatives. As I reflect on the time and energy that other writers put into their own stories, it helps me realize that my time as a writer is also valuable. These are the things that I continue to consider as I weigh my options of publication, and as I look for other opportunities to make a living as a writer.
Why do you write? If you have published, what are the pros and cons of publishing and/or self-publishing?
I would love to hear your thoughts.