Bloganuary: What’s a lie you tell yourself?
Well, this one’s a bit salty.
For me, it’s this idea that sometime in the misty future, I’ll be able to earn a living with my fiction writing.
This notion is so ingrained I’m not sure I can completely rid myself of it. But I’m trying to. Not because I dislike making money from my writing. I enjoy that.
But it was never my original motivation for writing fiction in the first place. I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the past several months. Interestingly, writing these prompts every morning has helped clarify some of the thinking, even those prompts that don’t relate to success or goals.
Or maybe especially those. It reminded me that I love to write. That my first motivation for doing so was to have stories I couldn’t find anywhere else.
When I started writing, I recognized the gap immediately. What I was writing did not match what I was reading in published novels. This frustrated me.
So I used publication as a way to gauge my progress. It was a great way to work with editors and learn.
At some point, instead of being a means to an end, publication became the end. Back in the days when traditional publishing ruled, the author with the most contracts (or awards or bestseller lists) won.
And I was—frankly—miserable. I maybe didn’t show it, but deep down, I was.
Then indie publishing came along. For a good couple of years, I had so much fun—again, learning and making progress. I love creating books, from the wispy first ideas to the finished project.
But then sales and money became the markers of success, to the point where it’s binary. If you aren’t earning “good money” (however you define that) with your writing, you should quit. Or at least, this is what it feels like. The notion permeates so many conversations about writing and publishing. It’s the water we swim in. (Which is why I’ve opted out of most of those conversations.)
For me, at least, it’s not a binary choice. Perhaps this is unique to American culture. But holy cats! We don’t need to monetize every last thing we do. Writing has worth. Whether you earn six figures from it or you simply blog for the joy of it.
I’m trying to unlearn this lie. And while I like it when people buy my books, it’s not why I write them.
So I’m searching for a new way forward. Perhaps, if I reach into the past and take the hand of the woman I once was, we can find our way into the future.