Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Am I a Chicken Writer?

At EPICon, Sherrilon Kenyon gave a great keynote speech. I cannot recreate her perspective or tone but the gist of it is to strive and persist and not give up. There was mention of having over 150 rejection in one year, years between contracts and not enough money for a stamp. A repeated refrain was that we all need to believe: "I am the best writer in the world and I deserve my dream."

I do wonder though. When a professional author, an Olympic athlete or a rock star says that all you have to do it persist--does it occur to you that for every person who finally succeeds there must be a great many who never give up and are buried with three tonnes of rejection letters and no contract? Effort is a key part of success, but it I really think we must appreciate that the best-selling author knows what got success for them--and may be overgeneralising a little in suggesting a room full of 100 people should necessarily follow in their footsteps? Sometimes, dare I say it, often--there is a time to give up. There really is. I could train day and night but I will never win a marathon, become a supermodel or fly to the moon.

I admire writers who starve and slave for their art but I wonder at that being presented as the only path for an "real" author to take. If the day ever came when I could not even afford a stamp I would put the laptop aside and go to work--as, indeed, I do. Does this make me less of a writer? Well, compared to Sherrilon, certainly a "lesser" one. It makes me a part-time writer, a person with things in their life other than being a writer, a person who requires the comforts of food and shelter even if I pay for it in other ways. But isn't this one of the things epublishing is there to provide? Writing for epubs can provide a steady, if modest, income for many part time writers--a compliment to the stress and strains of the day job and an outlet for creativity--a modest alternative to the hobby-slash-lottery path of submitting to the big New York presses.

I am not sure I truly say that being on a best-seller list is even one of my dreams at this point. I write, I sell what I write and I will always be able to afford a square meal, a warm coat... and a book of stamps. I am not the greatest writer in the world, but the world is a large place and I really do not think I need to accept hardship and ridicule to find my place in it.


Diana Castilleja said...

I have to agree with the hobby slash lottery idea of NY. It's so finite, and the quantity of people trying to get in... It's discouraging.

I don't have anything against e-publishing. It's another outlet, like buying a hotdog from the stand in the park, or going to the mall and getting the same thing there for 3 bux more b/c it is indoors.

I don't feel anyone has to suffer for their dream. But you do have to work at it.

Joyce Ellen Armond said...

This stuff strikes me a little bit like what is apparently being pushed in "The Secret."

The elements of great success are often out of our hands. To imagine that we are in control of all variables is ridiculous.

Perhaps the point is "if you keep trying you have the best chance of hitting the jackpot combo of right story-right time-right editor-right cultural climate-right audience."