There comes a time in every writer’s life where they’ve to determine a certain answer to the following question:
How serious am I about making a living out of writing?
With any artistic platform, success, above all else – I very much think – depends on an unrelenting willingness to make things happen.
For writers, making a living out of writing – creative writing – means that you’ve got to hold a sort of belief that says, “I am worthy. I can do this. I’m not afraid.” Yes, that may or may not sound like a cheap mantra you’d expect to read in a poorly written self-help book. Nevertheless, it’s true. Without your subconscious being delusional enough to believe these sentiments – fully, absolutely, and whole-heartedly – you’ve got no shot at making a living out of writing.
Setting aside the actual task of writing, which is a mountainous endeavour in and of itself, what do you think that you’re supposed to do once you’ve actually climbed your first hill, and written a manuscript? A full, 100,000 length novel? A future masterpiece?
Are you supposed to sit around and expect that you’re just going to somehow, from the magical void of unicorn poop, pop up in Amazon’s best new author list? Do you expect a call from the head editor at Penguin, explaining to you how she just had atelepathic sort of insight that someone named *insert your name here* wrote a masterpiece? And that she found you through LinkedIn? Do you expect that your best friend is going to see your genius for what it is, take the initiative to move your manuscript by sending it into all of the publishing giants? Where you’ll be promptly contacted, praised, pat on the head, and given a $100,000 advance and a contract for another five novels?
No. That’s crazy talk. You crazy. Crazy.
In order to get published you’ve got to make it happen yourself. You’ve got to pick up your manuscript, hold it high above your head, and shout, with all your might: “You. Yeah you. It’s time for you to see the world. It’s time for you to be loved. It’s time for you to be hated. It’s time for you to shine your inner diamond. It’s time for someone of importance to read you, and it is time. Now!”
But how to do this?
Do I just sit behind my computer, contriving ordinary proposals, as dictated by the manuscript submissions section on Random House’s website? Do I, like most, send in a bunch of “book resumes,” sit back, cross my fingers, and hope to the heavens that somebody of importance is going to actually read past the first two lines of my proposal? When they’re in a good mood? After sex, maybe. You know. When they’re swarmed with endorphins and maybe feelin a little friskay?
And if nothing is to come from these submissions, do I get down on myself, and simply resign to the fact of – “I’m just not good enough. It’s simple”
No. No. This isn’t the attitude of someone who wants to get published. This isn’t the attitude of someone who wants to make a living out of writing.
It can’t be. It mustn’t be. It can not, will not, shall not be.
But what if I’m not good enough? What if I’m wasting my time? What if I’m a terrible writer? What if my shit really do stink? What if?
No. Get that ‘what if’ nonsense out of your system. Writing’s not got anything to do with talent any more, just look at the best seller’s lists. Popularity is about marketing. Success has to do not with vision, nor has it do with technique, nor style, but with knowing the right people, at the right time. And making these people like you. Success has not anymore anything to do with raw writing ability, and all to do with industriousness. Creative self-promotion. And an undying willingness to not give up on your poetic, genius infused prose.
Yes. That’s it. Keep on going. You’re the little train that could. You can do it.
Pick yourself up. Write another submission letter. Hell. Get in your car, venture over to Penguin’s head office and throw your manuscript at them. Yeah, that’s it. Do that. Chuck it at them. In a folder. Wearing a mask – figuratively and literally – representing the revolution. You are an evolutionary. A visionary. A literary God. A wordsmith possessed by insatiable genius. So act like it. You are different from the others. A rebel with a cause. Certainly.
That’s what you must keep telling yourself.
Stick to your delusion. Wrap it around you like a blanket wraps a new born. Let your fantasy become your reality. Let it swallow you in its grips, and leave no trail of breadcrumbs behind. Lose yourself in this reverie, fictitious as it may be.
Run with your head down. Full steam ahead. Don’t look back. Don’t ask the question, “what if?” Disregard what people tell you. This is your life, not theirs. This is your way. This is what you have to do. Be brash. Don’t give in. Don’t cave. You’ve made the decision: You’re going to be a writer. A paid writer. An all-glorious writer. You’ve got to make it happen.
This is what you want, really. Truly. To write. Right?
What is the alternative?
Humans-are-delusional-creatures. Sometimes delusion is necessary.