Warning: The following contains butt-hurt and the overuse of commas. Viewer discretion is advised.
I’m not afraid of putting my nose to the grindstone in the name of telling a good story.
I can close my door, cancel plans, wake up early, stay up late, suffer blood-letting editing session after blood-letting editing session.
I can be the Rocky Balboa of writing.
Yet throughout this Herculean process, I’m taunted relentlessly by the possibility that all of this self-sacrifice could be in vain.
The cold reality is there are people that have been trying to publish for years and have nothing to show for it.
When I was young and naive, I thought these people simply weren’t talented enough for their work to be in print.
They didn’t try hard enough or refused to take constructive criticism.
They were the faux-intellectuals like the ones in my creative writing classes; self-professed literary geniuses who thought they were deep because they dead-ass copied F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing-style (poorly) and gave overlong descriptions about birds singing. Their inability to find an agent was a result of their own hubris and not indicative that the world of publishing is a heartless mistress.
However, I’ve learned a hard lesson watching people with actual talent trying to make it into the writing industry: Success in publishing isn’t necessarily predicated on skill.
There are just as many “bad” writers that receive attention as there are “good” ones.
50 Shades of Grey is the most sold book in history and it is literally a Twilight fanfic that was written on a Blackberry.
Most people know it is total garbage and have mocked it relentlessly since it first burst into popularity. But that doesn’t change the fact that E.L. James currently has more money than both you or I will make in our entire lives courtesy of this skid-mark of a novel.
So I guess she’s the one that got the last laugh.
In a sense, this should be encouraging.
Surely that means if something as terrible as 50 Shades can find a major publisher willing to back it, your book can too.
Then, I remember the detective novel JK Rowling wrote under the name Robert Gailbraith made paltry returns even though it was quite good, at least in my opinion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it became a best-seller until it was revealed who the true author was.
So what is a writer to do?
Sadly, I know the answer.
Basically, you just have to let go and accept that your magnum opus may not be that magnum to some people. That, in spite of your best efforts, it will likely disappear into the ether along with countless other works of fiction.
You may never become a millionaire and, realistically, you’ll be lucky to make a living at all…..
Buuuuuuuut, who wants to admit that? I would much rather live in my fantasy world where I am a revered authoress who will appear onto the literary scene like an angel from on-high and spread enlightenment upon the masses.
Idealistic image of someone reading my stories:
More realistic image of someone reading my stories:
I suppose one can never know what lies in store for their career. They can only cling to the hope that through hard work and dedication, they will rise above the pits of mediocrity and learn to soar amongst the eagles.
In all seriousness, it boils down to whether or not you believe you have a story worth telling. If you do, then you have to tell it regardless if you will receive high-praise for it or not.
Because, at the end of the day, it’s not about money. It’s about creating and sharing your passions with the world.
Or something like that, I don’t know.
Thank you for reading!