Show me a writer who doesn’t want publishing success, and I will eat both her and my laptop. 3 things to set you on the path to publishing success started me considering more thoroughly why the wish to be published is both important and legitimate. I realized that there are multifarious (where has that word been all my life?!) reasons why I want to succeed as a writer.
I want to be read
One of them is that I want to be read. I write not as a way of self- healing- help- or therapy, although I undoubtedly could have benefited from that too… On the contrary I have grown increasingly fond of my acquired insanity and imperfections, and actually believe that they are a valuable part of who I am. Besides, there are so many other subjects I’d rather focus on. Themes that are relevant to a wider circle than my immediate self and the voices in my head.
Riding the wave
Then, of course, there is nothing like the feeling of intoxication, riding high on the cascading wave of a writing spell. Except, that is, the delightfully plastered sensation when you’re happily lolling like an imbecile in someone’s appreciation of one of your pieces.
They don’t even have to regard you as shakeapeare-ann, or indeed a Rowling stone. As long as your writing has in any way touched them, or induced them to provide constructive criticism or comments (during which you take deep breaths, swallow hard, count to 10, go ommmmm, or whatever the situation requires), I know both they and I have incidentally stumbled towards a deeper understanding of ourselves and/or the subject matter.
Changing the world
Which is one of the main reasons why I write. I want to make a difference. As a matter of fact, I want to change the world. My own, as well as that of others. No more, no less. Not because I entertain the absurd belief that I am the one who has figured it all (if anything) out, but because I have the (maybe, ok: very likely) naive hope and belief that we can. No matter how daft it sounds: I believe in the power of a butterfly’s wings, the value of each and every starfish.
If you want to change the world, you must keep your audience awake. The only way to do this is to write about topics which engage and excite you. If you’re not excited, your readers are definitely not going to be. Which style you use is of less importance, the main thing is that it is your and nobody else’s style. It may not get you the Nobel Prize in literature, but at least you’ve given it an honest shot.
Bread and butter
Changing the world takes some effort, however, so regularly filling up your energy tank is essential. This implies, unless you’re an breahtarian, eating and drinking. Which, among other things that keep you warm and buzzing, cost money.
Consequently: If you want your writing to be your bread and butter, or salad and olive oil (if that’s what turns you on) publishing success is a prerequisite. And before you start snuffing at me with words on “corrupted thinking, corrupted writing”, have a look at number 15 in Chuck Wendig’s brilliant 25 things I want to say to so-called “aspiring” writers.
Kicking and screaming
I am a writer myself. Even a published one at that. Several of my pieces have appeared in German, English and Norwegian books, magazines and newspapers. I am still, however, at a place where I for each published item have to kick, fight and scream myself in. Very politely, of course, but persistently, in the process swallowing hard to handle the fears and smarts of rejection.
Nevertheless, from the outset of my budding aspirations to become a professional/ decent/proper/respectable (you name it) writer, I refused to follow any (sometimes veeery) odd advice that came my way. My guts were adamant, for example, that I should not mind the advice of the author of a couple of gory crime novels (“I don’t like the hideous details myself”, he said, “but that’s what the publisher wants…”) who suggested I copy the content and style of a particular kind of magazine contributors.
The thought of forcing myself into a different mold, felt like prostituting myself and my work. Furthermore, I would never be as good as the people who I was suggested to imitate, and most importantly; I would never be as good as I can be. My style is my own. It should always be improved and refined, but it is a part of who I am, of what I’ve been and seen, and of where I want to go.
A newspaper editor who liked my style offered me my own weekly column. What he wanted me to focus on, however, was so stupid and meaningless to me that I would rather have performed a balancing act in the nude across the Niagara Falls on a bad hair day than write about what he suggested.
Maybe I said “no” to something that would have brought me a steady income and other assignments, but it can’t be helped. It would have taken the right out of my writing, the steam out of my self-esteem.
In my distorted mind, being a respectable writer, means being able to respect both the voices in your head… and your heart, while constantly striving to get better. Heeding the advice of the people you choose to listen to.
The writing must go on
And there is lots of sound advice out there, provided in print or online by gifted people who generously and openly share their insights and experiences with the less practiced and published among us. And what most of the advice comes down to is this: Bad or good hair day, the writing must go on.