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

  1. Jordan, this post is so good for so many reasons. I think you are spot on in identifying what’s changed in the publishing industry. I think it’s made me pause on my writing blog as well. Being able to ask ourselves what’s most important in writing, why we want to be better and what is the purpose and meaning behind it, is profound. Thank you so much for sharing this kind of message on your blog. I wish more writers would do the same.

  2. beautifully said

  3. […] were a few bread crumbs that led me to question my latest endeavors. There was this post by writer hero and friend Jordan Rosenfeld who I once interviewed […]

  4. thank you for offering this now, as i sit and edit my novel, one more time, as i sit with the risks of taking my art and craft seriously, with the risk of not only what i have to offer, but what it has to offer me, and what i then might reap and sow…the world, our world changes around us, and we are part of the harmony, or not…

    • Thanks for stopping by, Judi. It’s been hitting me a lot in the past couple of years, since child rearing has replaced constant writing, that there is still value in writing, GREAT value, even if publication is uncertain.

  5. one writes for many reasons, or not, and but the underpinnings–the courage of the work, its ability to hold its own weight, its heart, art, and craft–must stand up to the scrutiny of one reader, or one million…not to mention, of course, our own

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