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.
If you want to get all of this delivered to your inbox in a handy, summarized and easy-to-reference manner, just click the picture below to find your way to my mailing list sign up page.
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.
7 thoughts on “The Slow Movement & Small Thinking”
YES! I totally agree. It is so easy to get swept up in publishing trends (self-publishing and traditional), marketing & social media trends and “must-do’s for writers”, and networking, networking, networking. Those aren’t bad things to know about and do, but ERMAHGERD can it become intimidating — especially when (hopefully well intentioned) non-writer-types look at the J.K. Rowling and 50 Shades examples, expecting that you: a) obviously want to do the same, b) can easily do the same (because, c’mon, they did it, right?), and c) totally have time to master all that marketing stuff and should channel all your energy into THAT because — oh, wait, writing takes HOW long?! (I kid…mostly. I have had the “c’mon-already-what-is-taking-so-long-it-can’t-be-that-hard” conversation about my project before.) It’s also tough not to sink into the “well, I’m never going to have enough time to write fiction unless I can make some money writing other stuff so that I can quit my job/work part-time” mentality — which, on occasion, has eaten me alive. All of that takes the focus away from the actual writing.
Your post reminded me of one I saw earlier this year by Jessica Spotswood: http://www.jessicaspotswood.com/blog/2013/12/29/2013-a-learning-year-managing-expectations/. She says: “It’s easy to go from your sales are not good enough (What would be good enough? You do not actually know) to your writing is not good enough to YOU are not good enough. Like, as a person.” It really can’t just be about the book sales — especially if it ends up stealing all the wind from your writing sails. (See what I did there? Bahaha.)
So…I was going to sum up with a quote about how you could be the best darn marketer out there, but nobody reads/publishes an unfinished novel….but I like this one better: “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” – Allen Ginsberg
🙂 Oh, brilliant quote Allison. I love it, and I am going to brain-eat-it-up (i.e. remember it). You are saying so many things in your comment that I totally agree with. Of course, I love the community aspect of writing and sharing writing, and I like marketing too . . . but so much pressure, it can suck away the joy. Catherine is the one chatting with me about Slow Marketing. Are you going to her book launch, by the way? It is coming up soon!
I do love that quote. 🙂 I hope everything goes well for Catherine’s book launch! Unfortunately, we’re going to be out of town that weekend…but hopefully I’ll get to read about it. 🙂
I love, love, love this post! I love your ka-noodling; and doesn’t it feel so right (write!) to let go of the pressures and pursue things at your own pace, and with being authentic, being YOU?! the series you are creating for writers on crowdfunding – what a great project! cannot wait to see it!
so I say – see that, you stupid fucking cancer – you SEE that?! and she’s gone bra-less, you bastard! Ha!
You always leave me smiling, Karen. Thank you for that 🙂
Oh wow, I love just about everything about this post, and I think your ‘slow marketing’ ideas can be applied to all aspects of life. To live life purposefully, in your own time, being true to yourself and your own ambitions, however small, is for me the greatest of accomplishments. To do so in the face of a fast-paced world full of (market driven) messages about pushing harder, faster, stronger is an act of courage. Bravo Catherine!
These are messages that also mean a heck of a lot to me in recent months, as I think about the kind of world I want my daughter to fit into, and how she’ll fulfill her own potential, in her own time. I think we can be quite obsessed today with kids having all the ‘right’ stimuli and hitting all the ‘correct’ milestones, and I wonder not only where that leaves kids like my daughter, but also what it does for just being a kid generally…But we shall see what she does in her own sweet time, and I digress!
Yay for one whole bra-less, cancer-defying year!!
And I love love love the pictures you chose for this post. Geordie and Worf in Rpbin Hood get ups? What’s not to love? 😉
I think you raise a really good point around those milestones, Sadie. It is as though the pressure to succeed starts almost immediatly, even if the little ones don’t quite know why or what is being done. You bring this out even further for consideration, and I reckon it can be applied to so many different areas. I’ve been surprised at the length of comments. Clearly this is a change of pace that goes deep into ourselves.
Thanks for your comment. I hope, as always, that you and your family are well. Geordie and Word – those pictures make me laugh again and again without fail! 🙂