Dear Esteemed Author – Mentor-Confidante-Friend,
We watched an episode of Black Mirror last night (very strange but intriguing BBC TV series) that was set in a future where everyone gained merit points by cycling on stationary bikes each day. They could then use those merit points to “buy” whatever they needed to live – or to attempt to escape from their monotonous existence. A TV show called Hot Shots, something like American Idol, was constantly advertised and shown on the ubiquitous TV screens placed everywhere the people looked. For 15 million merit points the cyclists could enter the competition and show off their talent to judges. This competition and the winning of it was promoted as a way of finding fame and fortune and finally getting off those stationary bikes. Of course, the whole contest is fixed and one girl who enters is told that while she is great, she’s not good enough to actually win, but then she’s “offered” the alternative of becoming one of the judge’s Babes in a different TV show, an ongoing porn program that is also constantly shown on those ever-intrusive TV screens. So, through competition, she escapes, but to what? More servitude. An even worse existence.
It was very well done, but it got me thinking overnight about how much I loathe reality and competitive TV shows. And the very thought of competing with other authors in either writing or publishing leaves me absolutely cold. Writing should never be considered a competitive sport! So I’ve decided to take myself out of the competition of constantly promoting my writing, myself and my published book. I plan to write from here on in to satisfy myself and my readers only. I won’t enter contests – although I will cheer on my friends who do. I won’t seek publication through a traditional publisher. I will continue to publish my own novels as eBooks, because I’ve discovered I do have a market for them. But I probably won’t print copies again, unless I can pre-sell enough to cover the expense. And I will also concentrate on publishing and promoting others in both eBook and print, whichever way they wish to have their work published. Or I will help them with getting published and then promote their books for them.
But I will no longer compete.
It’s not that I don’t think I can win a competition, or that I can’t sell enough copies of my books – it’s just that it doesn’t matter to me any longer whether I am judged to be better, or worse, than other writers. Writing in itself is the most important part of what I do, and if I can complete a work to my satisfaction and find a few readers who also enjoy what I’ve written then I will have accomplished a great deal.
I also won’t be applying for any jobs. If someone wants me to work for them as a paid employee, they can come to me and I will consider their offer. But I won’t compete for a job any longer. Ditto for grants. No more grant applications.
And I will never take another workshop-style class either. FAR too many competitive souls in those for my liking – people who can’t see beyond themselves and their own writing to be able to take constructive criticism or be of any use in helping me to improve mine.
Like you, Esteemed Author, I’m finding I’ve become very tired of the whole process and the business end of books. What I’d really rather be doing is reading other authors’ books, working on my own writing, developing these big ideas that come into my head, and looking after myself. So I’m stepping back, taking stock of my lifeworth, and will not concern myself with what others think of me. For now.
Oh, and one more thing … I’m taking a hiatus from both FB and Twitter. I’ll continue to post my blog updates and links to interesting articles I find, but I won’t be taking part in any other posts or comments for a while. I’m so tired of all the naysayers, nitpickers, and gossips, and I can use the time I generally waste on social media so much more wisely. And, on that subject, this blog post came in today from The Writing Corp: The Distraction Devil by Jane Sherman
Also, lo-and-behold and as I’ve come to expect from Seth Godin, he sent round the most appropriate blog post just at the exact moment I needed to read it: On feeling small
So thanks, once again, Esteemed Author, for all your support and understanding over the years, but mainly for setting me such a good example. For helping me see past all that other stuff that was blocking my view of the true joy that can be had from just writing.
A recovering writer