The Myth of Publishing

The Myth of Publishing.jpg

This post is an open letter to writers like myself who, at a young age, got roped into the publishing myth.

There’s this idea that once you get published, you evolve into a Writer, with secret Knowledge of what Success in Writing looks like. It’s New-York-Times-Selling magic that makes everything an author does brilliant and perfect.

The whole idea behind it is wrong. You can’t sit down, pop a novel out like a baby, get it published, and be done with writing forever. Creativity doesn’t work that way.

If you drew out a step by step of the creation of a book, it would end with publication (from the publishing house’s viewpoint). Your work bound and sent out across the world. But it’s not the end. There’s no such thing as a final draft. As a writer, you’ll always be able to find things you should have changed, words you couldn’t think of before. Writing doesn’t end once it’s printed on a page; it doesn’t end at all. Every single story I’ve published (and every novel I’ve revised, but not yet published and even in this post which I’ve revised at least ten times) I look back at and worry about commas, descriptions, language. They’re not perfect, because it’s literally impossible to perfect a story. Perfection doesn’t exist, so why do we believe it exists bound in a hardcover for $24.99 at Barnes and Noble?

Authors aren’t gods. They’re the opposite, too close to humanity for comfort. They aren’t factories. They’re artists that use words. Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic” talks in depth about the way we should openly embrace creativity and not treat it as something perfect that we must suffer for. Art isn’t perfect, and it isn’t meant to be perfect. Success shouldn’t be defined as being published or shown in a gallery (these are great things, don’t get me wrong), but should be defined by your satisfaction.

Does your art make you happy?
Does your art push you to make more art, and to seek out different ways of doing it?
Are you in love with your art?

These can sound like New-Agey questions, and I understand that’s not for everyone. But there’s real merit behind this question. So what if no one ever reads your story? Do you want it read? That’s what truly matters. What we currently define as success (published, best-selling, touring) is success, but it is not only success. It comes in many different forms that I wish I knew about when I was younger. Life is short, art is awesome, so go out and make it.

Be happy.

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Kicking 2016’s Ass (A New Years Post)

Kicking 2016's Ass (A New Years Post)

I didn’t do New Year goals for a long time. I was under the impression that if I wanted to make changes, I would just make them. I didn’t need a special time of the year to tell me that.

And while that thinking isn’t exactly wrong, it’s nice to have a time in the year, a specific recurring time no less, where you can sit down and seriously review what the hell you’re doing with your life. College has been wonderful in that it affords me a lot of freedom to try different things and not stick to a plan, but now that I’ve wandered around a bit, I want a plan. Stuff tends to not get done unless I write it down and constantly bash it in my head that this-is-a-thing-I-must-do. And, you know, there’s always the looming fact that one day I’ll die. It’d be nice if I got some of this stuff done before then, and it’s not going to accomplish itself.

There’s a real beauty to the minimalist philosophy and while I’m not planning on going hard-core minimalism, I’m definitely borrowing some of their ideas for my attitude towards 2016. Amanda Palmer wrote an amazing song called “The Thing about Things”, which you should listen to, which describes it perfectly. Things cost money, which you get a job to make, and consumerism makes you want more things which makes you want more money. More things means more time and more space to hold the things which requires more money and, ultimately, you’re left frantically taking care of a household museum rather than living life. I want to begin shaking that in 2016.

A large portion of my inspiration for New Years came from the lovely Kara Benz at Boho Berry and the bullet journal community. (I do use a bullet journal, but that’s a post for another time.) I divided my goals into six categories with one overarching theme: Do Less, Get More. The six categories are:

Mental
Physical
Education
Artistic
Spiritual
General

I could have just thrown together a bunch of uncategorized goals (which I’m doing for my 100 Goals in 10 Years list, but again that’s another post), but the organization makes it way easier to digest and plan. One of my goals was starting a blog – and here I am! One goal already accomplished. Here’s an example of one of my goal categories:

Education
*Watch more TED talks
*Learn soap making
*Learn candle making
*Listen to podcasts
*Have a conversation in Portuguese

Now that it’s January, I made a second set of goals I want to accomplish this month (I know, so many goals, but it’s so helpful!) that feed into my 2016 goals.

The point of all this is to help me finally get what I want out of life, rather than putting them off in fear. Fear of failure surrounds every decision we make, but true failure is actually quite rare to come by.

Funny story: cheeky high-school me once told my teacher (when she asked what I wanted to accomplish that year) that I wanted to be fearless. That’s not such a bad goal after all.