In a week I get to post a sign over my desk that reads, “I’d rather write” and dial back social media presence to pre-publishing levels. I am antsy with anticipation. I’ve already axed Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone and tablet. Next I re-install the blocker on my laptop. Happy dancing will ensue, I assure you.
When I committed myself to mastering what I call “Authoring” (all the non-creative elements of self-publishing) I knew the task would pull me away from writing. Authoring doesn’t only eat up time, it fills the brainspace needed for dreams and ideas. I have only missed two writing days the whole year, but I’ve produced mostly ephemera (correspondence, posts, tweets, blog entries) and paddled around in the shallows of creation–revising, formatting, designing graphics etc. The demands of marketing, networking, advertising, and administration sapped my creative energy and shattered my attention span. I knew they would, from past experience with juggling jobs. I knew, and I knew how badly the loss would scrape at me, but I did it anyway.
I had to try, to see if I could. I’m a sucker for a challenge. I also had to make the investment to know if my words were worth it. The publishing world is flooded with writing. I had to breach the inherent barrier of visibility to learn if my work had appeal. Would it attract readers who came across it by chance or through secondary recommendation? (Spoiler alert: yes. Color me with blushes.)
I know I’m supposed to write for myself, but it’s not how I’m built. No point in lecturing me about external validation. Deaf ears. I’m a competitor by nature. The drive to be best, to claw my way to the top of any ranking, isn’t about winning over anyone else. It isn’t about putting others down. It’s internal all the way. I can know I am good enough all day long–but I will never believe it until I hear it from someone with no reason to placate, pity, or pander to me. So I went hunting.
Turns out I have an audience. My work has fans. I got out there and self-promoted and networked and learned about marketing tricks and channels and shared all I learned in turn. My audience isn’t big, but its members are passionate, and I cherish them. Their enthusiasm–their willingness to not only make time for my words but also to share their enjoyment with others–inspires me. In a word, they rock.
So here’s the thing. I gave full-time Authoring a year, and I have visibility. I’ve started a fire in the darkness. The flames in the kindling are flickering nice and bright. I could toss in more branches, promotionally-speaking, and build it higher until my visibility has a bright, wide reach. Or I could bank the hot, glowing coals and let them burn low and slow on their own for a while. Guess which option leaves me time and energy to write. Ayup. I’m banking those fires.
All my major travel for the year is finished. My summer/fall schedule, packed with family obligations, required events, and constant activity: completed at last. Best of all, my resolution to spend a whole “Year of Attempting Authoring” is almost done. This doesn’t mean I become a hermit. I have authoring plans for next year already. (I have postcards to hand out, dammit. And a game I want design) It only means I dial back on authoring distractions and manage the rest with an emphasis on efficiency.
Bottom line: I’d rather write than author. And as an independent artist with little prospect of ever profiting from my work, that’s a choice I have the luxury of making. So I’m doing it. I’ll stoke my creative fire rather than see my name in lights.
|Not this kind of fire. A figurative one.|