Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Abandon the Bloodless Pursuit…

In Musings, Publishing on March 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm

 Here’s a question you don’t hear asked often in today’s writing/publishing climate: What if the only end result of writing was to tell a wonderful story to an audience? And what if that “audience” was as small as a circle of a dozen friends, or a social group, or a family gathering? Would you still write?

I ask myself this question more and more as I watch the illusion of a “big payout” in the publishing world glimmer as though in a distant galaxy, winking in and out of clarity. Big Name Writers are walking away from Big Money at Big Publishers to sell directly to the people, and,  thanks to the rise of the e-reader, the little people are publishing themselves. (Hopefully, everyone engaging in an act of publication is taking great care to hone their words, to *care* about what they write, too. Because it matters, even if it’s only a circle of 12–more on that soon).

And while the little girl in me who dreamed of being her generation’s Louisa May Alcott has a few moments of disappointment or sorrow at this collapse of the old model, more and more now I’m feeling excited. Why? Because I see it as an opportunity for writers to get back in touch with what really matters about writing: Writing as a Path, with a capital P, and also a Practice. Not writing to get rich, or writing to become famous, but writing to apprentice oneself to a meaningful craft because it expands one’s own heart, soul an sense of purpose in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I think writers should be well-paid for their art, just as I think teachers and healers and others of that ilk should be. Every time I meet a writer who lives on the fruits of his or her labor, I thrill inside that there is another one!  But it has taken me a long time to realize that the writing has to give as much to the writer as it does to the reader, and that soulless, bloodless pursuit of publication probably does more harm than good.

And not to empty a cache of easy cliches, but I believe Joseph Campbell’s statement that if you “follow your bliss” the doors open, the money flows, and more importantly, happiness.

What would it be like if you wrote because it made you feel worthy, bigger, and joyful?

The New Gatekeeper is You

In Craft on March 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and at first I thought it was just overwhelm, but then I realized, I can’t talk about writing in the same way I once did. There are two reasons: the first is motherhood, which has so profoundly changed my writing practice and my life these nearly three years, but even more so as my son becomes ever more a person with more complex needs. Second, the resculpting of the publishing industry, which seems to be putting more power (and more responsibility) in writers’ hands, has caused me to feel like I am a biologist witnessing the evolution of a species I thought I knew intricately. Certainty is giving way to curiosity andd doubt.

What I do know are making their truths more evident every day and they finally feel worthy of a blog post

First–craft is crucial. We should always be striving to write as though there are gatekeepers to success. Those gatekepers may increasingly become fewer publishers/agents and more individual readers we find and reach on our own, but they will remain. This means that self-publishing even more than ever will be challenged to never  become the route of: “I don’t have to work as hard.” You’re writing to say something, to entertains and awaken, enrich or share, after all. In fact, with no mighty engine of publisher behind you, you may in fact, have to work harder than ever. And why wouldn’t you want to?  This brings me to point two:

Second: writing has to count for something greater than becoming a name or finding a platform, even making a living, worthy a livelihood as it may be. For me, in this new life as a mother, where my time to write wars with my time to earn money, all of which pales in comparison to the need to give my child what he deserves, my writing has to contribute to the quality of my being, to my sanity, happiness, and spiritual fulfillment. Otherwise it’s just another thing to check off a list, another thing that I am turning away from my family to do.

Perhaps what I am saying is no different from what else is being said across the blogosphere, but it is suddenly, urgently important to me. We must hone our craft, not just because money or audience or fame is at stake, but as a practice, a refuge, a betterment of ourselves, just as you would carefully build a house or a chair or make a meal out of practicality and love.

So whether you wait for the iron gates of existing publishing to open from your efforts, or you forge your own path, keep the deepest parts of yourself in mind, your heart, your soul, and the people who look to you.

Make yourself proud.


“We should write because…writing claims our world. It makes it directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance as well.

We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.”

–Julia Cameron, the Right to Write