My girlfriend and I were chatting at the Bridgehead this evening around expectations set for writers, and how we feel about those expectations. I reckon this is a story we have all experienced before, many times with references to J.K. Rowling, since that’s most people’s point of reference in the world of book publication. Anyhow she described a story that went along the lines of this:
She’d been chatting her novel with a co-worker, and the colleague was quite excited for her. So excited, that he was throwing out ideas about how she could hit the mark and sell thousands of copies of books. He showed her an article in the newspaper that that very day reported on a self-published author who had hit it big, and was now being sold nation-wide and had a strong following.
This caused some anxiety in my friend. She loves to write. She is totally a writer. But . . . she really isn’t into marketing, promoting, and all the stuff todays aspiring authors often need to be.
In that moment, as the newspaper was displayed as an example of where she could be a year from now – it wasn’t inspiring, or encouraging, or invigorating . . . for her, it was anxiety causing. She worried about it quietly in the back of her mind. She thought about it on her way back home. She talked with her partner about it.
And he reminded her that it was never about the selling of books. Her love was in the writing of books. To write, to print, to share and then to write again. Simple as that.
And I related.
Oh, how I related.
Let’s be clear, I’d be thrilled if Claire Never Ending was picked up and launched far and wide into the world of readers. But holy hot dog, do I not enjoy the expectations that often come with a dream. There are the expectations of blowing it up huge, or selling tons of copies, of creating a business.
It’s truly knackering. And while I do see all kinds of merit in building that career as a writer – I like what my friend brought up next, which was this idea of “slow marketing”
“Slow Marketing is a term that emerged from the expansion of the Slow Movement into the arena of marketing and advertising.” ~Wikipedia
Basically, slow marketing is about taking your time, doing something well, and not worrying too much about that very big, big, big picture. It’s about the long journey rather than the rocket ship ride.
Maybe that is too abstract. I guess it’s mostly about doing what you love, devoid of expectations that don’t fit your real desires.
Personally, I feel a little torn. It makes me quietly ache when folks with excellent intentions ask if I am writing another book. No, I’m not. I’m not writing too much these days. And the other day I had a realization: that is okay. It is okay for me not to be writing at this moment. It is all okay. I am doing just fine putting my creative energies in other places.
When I realized that – that I didn’t really feel like writing another book right now – the pressure suddenly lifted. It felt okay to focus on writing-related project that actually don’t involve creative writing. My mind is curious and engaged. My book is alive and well, which was always a deep drive inside of me. And I will continue to market it in small but persistent waves of effort. . . when I can, as I can, and with pleasure.
Soon I’ll go back to developing the new cover. Isn’t that exciting? I think so. I look forward to it. And once done (if they’ll have me), I look forward to throwing more bookmarks at innocent bookstore shoppers.
And I love social media. Of course, it is a world of “marketing, conversation and sales (a side of things I also like very much. Seriously, if I went back in time, I would have taken a degree in marketing – it is fascinating and so fun). So yes, it has that element, but even more importantly, it is a world of conversation and community. I find out the weather from this Ottawa fellow named Kyle who is soooo fast to report atmospheric changes, and advise whether you should cancel or continue the BBQ. I see what my fellow authors have been up to, and where they are in their writing and accomplishing their big dreams. I listen in on the local Vanier conversations – and who has spotted what in the last few days. I following along the #BCSM conversations, and click through to read the latest news in cancer research.
That’s my form of slow – it’s real & genuine engagement with my community.
This evening I said to my friend, “I always think small, and that can be to my detriment.”
But then I corrected myself.
“Or maybe . . . maybe it’s to my benefit? Maybe the detriment is judging the way I operate as being wrong. Who am I comparing myself to anyhow? And why bother comparing at all?”
And she said to me, “Some people think big, and they do it really well. Some people think small, and they do that really well too.”
So we sipped our tea and felt quite satisfied with our resolution to this conversation.
What do you think? Big, small, slow, fast? What pace of ambition suits you best?
Does anyone relate to this, or are we crazy?
(And this is where I had planned on ending the post. But a second look & quick revision has caused it to keep going on . . .)
P.S. Did you notice I’ve inserted some seemingly random pictures from Star Trek in this blog post? That’s right! I did it cause I felt like it, and because it was fun. Wasn’t that fun? My goodness, watching Star Trek again from an adult perspective has made it even better in my mind.
P.P. S. I’m cooking up a series for writers on crowdfunding. It will involve 1) a long & pretty infographic. 2) TWO podcast episodes – one where I chat with another author who crowdfunded, and one where I chat with Kevin about why it’s hard to ask for help from others. and 3) A FIVE part youtube series called “Crowdfunding for Writers” where I break down things to consider if you are launching & want to crowdfund your project.
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P.P.P.S. I’m burying this becuase I don’t want it to be a big deal. It’s been just about 1 year since I was diagnosed with metastatic fucking cancer. So there’s that. But also, it’s been over a year since I’ve given up wearing a bra. Maybe for the rarest of rare occasions I will put one on… but otherwise – NO BRA. It stared when my chest had intense pain and I really couldn’t wear one . . . and now . . . meh, it’s not really on my mind.
1 year, no bra.
and yes, I’m still here, still creating, still living, still loving . . . and still very much alive. Thank God.