Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Importance of Being Published






Last night I lay awake for a long time, thinking about a blog post I came across on twitter yesterday.
A friend had posted it, but it had been written by someone else, someone I don't know.
It was a rant.
It was a longish and bitter rant against writers who strive to be published, who talk about being published, and how to get there. This blogger was disgusted by that attitude and postulated that writing was a thing onto itself, something that should be done without having publishing in mind, and writers shouldn't even think about it. She wanted an "artistic exchange" between writers, and not endless shop talk, and she wanted the need for validation gone.
Well.
Here's the thing.
Writing is work. It's a lot of work. It's time consuming, and it leaves you with not doing other things that should be done. It also doesn't exist for itself. Just like a cake that wants to be eaten by many, the writing should go out and be read.

Why is it that artists – including writers – are expected to work for free, and why do they think they should? Why is creativity seen as a by-product of normal life?
What a strange thing this is, creativity. It's all around us, in every design, every piece of clothing, even the cute or funny image on our coffee mug. It's taken for granted, it's a part of human life.
Why write, if there's no one to read it? Why sing, if no one will listen?

I'm not going to give you the bull about "needing" to write, or else. It's just not true. You can decide to be a writer, or you can leave it. There's no such thing as a writing gene that forces you to put pen to paper, it's a decision, because there's a story bubbling away in you. But it can be told just as well to yourself, late at night and in bed, to lull you into dreams. No need to spend weeks or months writing it down.
But please don't tell the world that you don't care if someone reads your writing. It's a big, fat lie.
Every baker wants their cake to be eaten, and praised, every singer wants their song to be heard, and every writers wants their stories to be read.

Let's get back to the validation thing for a moment.
What exactly does that mean, "validation"?
It means you get paid. In this particular instance, it means someone bought your novel, and you're getting paid for all those hours you spent writing it. Someone who lives to make money - a publisher, an agent - decided that your work is good enough to make them some coins.
YOU may call it validation. Others call that business. You worked for it – so why not get paid?
The only difference is that no one asked you to do the work. You weren't hired to do it. But that's about the only difference. It was still work. It was fun, you enjoyed doing it, but in the end you have a product that can be sold. So sell it, and don't sit on it because you fear rejection. You wouldn't sit on your cake, either.

Right.
This was my kind of rant about writing.
My publisher keeps saying this: "Butt in chair, write, and then submit!"
I like how they can sum up things this neatly. Too many writers talk about writing instead of writing. They talk about it on twitter, a lot. They attend conferences and workshops, they blog and cry about it, when they should be writing.
So this is where I'm going now: back to my work day. I have a novel to finish.







23 comments:

  1. Nice post, Mariam! I hope to stop talking and get writing now that I'll have time. Oh, and have cake, too! :-)

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  2. Fully agree with you! Writing is a pursuit, not a pastime - as if any of us are so time rich that we need a hobby to pass it!
    Artistic exchanges amongst writers are all well and good, but what I want is to reach, affect and exchange with readers. And get paid for it ideally.

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    1. Thank you, Claire. Everyone wants to get paid for their work!

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  3. Cheers!! Now what you say is once again going to kick many off their proverbial lazy chairs, I see them all running to write away what they wished to, Once I was kicked by this happy author and now in the span of ten months can proudly rant about my more than five hundred and fifty poetry pieces and few short stories. Keep the ranting on!

    love and best regards
    Sangeeta Suneja

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  4. Many, many congrats, Sangeeta! You're amazing! What an outpour!

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  5. I can't say I've really made money from my published work so far, but I do see writing as my 'job'. Like any career, it needs to be nurtured. I refuse to feel guilty for treating this as a job rather than a hobby. Basically, bravo Mariam! Now, I'm going to have some cake, while I can still afford it!

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    1. I don't think the amount of money matters very much. The attitude does, though. I like that you say it has to be nurtured like any other career! That's exactly what I meant! :)

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  6. I think there are different things going on there. Some people want to write just to write. Others want to write to be read. and still others want to write for fame and glory. I do not think that one position is better than the other - they simply co-exist.

    (I am all in for fame and glory. ^^ )

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    1. Reminds me of Leia in Star Wars, Diandra: "If money is all you want, then money is all you'll get." It's totally okay to write just for fun! It's totally okay to do anything just for fun!

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  7. Well said Mariam. Started a long reply, never mind, I'll go write a blog post instead. Thanks for the idea and the kick in the pants to return to my novel.

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  8. Please post your link here, Nita?

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  9. I have decided tonight that i am not going to die of cancer - it's just a blip. Tomorrow - I am writing. My Editor is waiting.:)

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    1. Well - OF COURSE you're not dying of cancer, Lesley. Someone who'll follow a coyote into the brush and leave the road to walk after bison will not be defeated by something trivial like that! xo

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    2. Thank you! I have the coyote picture I bought up here with me where I am house sitting. I see him every day. Couldn't fit a bison in my suitcase. LOL

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  10. Excellent points Mariam! And they apply to artists in any media, not just writers.

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  11. I totally agree, Mariam. What I like to do is write for myself first, but then re-write, re-structure, re-invent, polish and write again until a book is ready for readers. To me that's actually the fun part! Good post.

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    1. Thank you! I agree, we always write for ourselves first. But once we commit to being authors we have to take ourselves seriously. That's the moment it becomes a job!

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  12. Here via Alison Wells and I completely agree with you. I have not poured two years of my life into writing this novel for the good of my health. Thanks for this sensible post!

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    1. HA! Thank you! It certainly doesn't help our health to sit in a chair at a desk most our lives! It's a frigging job! :)

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