ON BEING INDEPENDENT

I enjoy getting rejections of my writing and do lots  (like now which inspires this bluster). Well, maybe not enjoy it, but I feel satisfied. It’s all part of my grand scheme is how I see it, and it doesn’t take long to bounce back. On the contrary, it becomes time here to get my head around what I’m doing.

Again.

Other than the actual writing. In the three almost years since seriously dedicating myself to this craft and its trappings, I’ve done well enough, appearing regularly in small independent journals, anthologies and e-zines (is that still a word?). A chapbook by a small fry who’s now defunct, which happens. And rejected by the best of them! Recently I attended the Virginia Festival of the Book and heard firsthand from some in the “establishment” literary community, those I affectionately call “the MFA and those who love them crowd”, on the current state of publishing. Collectively they didn’t seem to wanna get, or acknowledge, or legitimize, the full scope of what’s happening in the indie world. And I’m talking the very indie world, where people read for free- the “no pay market”.

That oughta make sense though, right?

I mean with their pedigree. I wouldn’t expect a person who’s gone a more conventional route (in more ways than one) to understand. And of course I’d never imply that anyone hasn’t worked for what they got. I know it’s work. But are you a “writer” if you don’t get paid? I can’t help be a writer the way I roll but then again, I’m known for opinions that go against the grain. A debate about who or what is a writer is banal, isn’t it? Anyway, the jokes cracked by the festival panel and the laughter and the nodding of heads in the audience about “some blogger from Cleveland” and how “everyone thinks they’re a writer” and “now you can be an editor”, etc show a disconnect and unawareness of the proliferation of writing with integrity in many good places. Personally, I haven’t bought a $28.00 hard cover book from a big publishing house for years (sorry). My time’s spent reading blogs of interest and independent journals and mags. And there’s lots. When I feel the need for an actual book,  I get it from the library (sorry). That’s practical and yes I love my library! I’m glad to say my time spent in the virtual space has given me a handful of favorite writers that you’ve never heard of,  that I enjoy and am vested in. And many I’ll never read again.

Ever.

It’s embarrassing! (All About Anika:  This blog is where I daily will reveal my deepest feelings and thoughts and random stream-of-consciousness for the world and yes universe).

Not that you asked.

The editor of one such small press who’s published a handful of my stories says, “I’ve run across very disparaging comments about non-paying markets, in the line of “Why don’t you get your worthless shit off the internet and stop wasting people’s time?” I remind myself that the press has some fabulous writers, and that we’ve been around for nearly 12 years now … but still, no one wants to be told their baby is ugly.”

Really.

So yeh, I’m almost three years in and here we are. I can’t help but feel not too shabby (not that you asked), though I haven’t yammered about my writing trajectory lately nor come to you with any crisis of conscience. Aren’t you lucky? I’ve done that as good as clockwork in the past and quite critically too, but what’s new to say? Other than my biggest challenge now is deciding where it’s best to spend my time. But my persistent notion that I’m an outsider, hardscrabble, and just plain independent makes me wonder- am I writing my own piece of fiction here, casting myself as the junk yard dog?

How romantic.

It’s a hard life for an iconoclast.

I glean so much. And have to remind myself that sometimes in life “they’re just not that into you.”

Click file, save, and publish.
indie

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13 thoughts on “ON BEING INDEPENDENT

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Pete. And, I get it … the rejections. You definitely aren’t doing too shabby, my friend. For the longest time, as a writer myself, I didn’t feel in the league of writer’s like you. Thankfully, I’m slowly overcoming that insecurity after learning from you and others.

    As far as indie goes, hmph, so many thoughts on that one. I’m waning back and forth on whether or not to shop my novel around (on my very last edit and almost done), or to go indie. A woman in my writer’s group is actually making decent money at indie, and she’s an excellent writer. But, yes, because indie is so easy, everyone thinks they’re a writer now. I can’t tell you how many books sounded good in their description, but when I downloaded it … the writing was … ech!

    Then there is marketing. Ugh! Even through a publisher, writers have to promote their own work. But, to try and be discovered (by the public) in social media is like the proverbial needle in a haystack. Sigh.

    Sorry this is so long, but this subject has been on my mind with my novel finally about finished.

    Keep up the good work, Armetta. I’m watchin’ you. 🙂

    • I know you’re watching, we’ve been together too long! Thanks for reading and the thoughtful comments.

      I’m not speaking to self/vanity publishing as much as independent, no pay journals and publishers. I still believe in the idea of getting my work in front of the right editor/publisher (and them having the good taste to choose and want to partner with me). The idea of self-promoting my own book (to my aunt on facebook?) and being a marketer won’t happen. Not that I don’t push my work out now virtually whether here on this blog or when I appear in one of said publications.

      Your insecurity? You so silly. You are one bold chick! And probably make a kick ass braggioli!

  2. Great post, as usual. It’s a tough one. The publishing industry’s been in a lot of trouble for a lot of years. Here in Canada, at least since the early-to-mid 90s, maybe even before that. I know because an art director who used to work for me is married to an uber talented book designer, who’s worked for all the biggies.

    So I have had a long time to come to terms with reality.

    Here, unless you’re a proven successful author, a celebrity, star athlete etc. etc. or a major heavyweight journalist, it’s almost impossible to get a literary agent to even look at you — or your manuscript.

    Has that stopped me dead in my tracks or made me want to throw myself into oncoming traffic? Not really.

    But it has made me open my mind to small, independent publishers (who can be very good and also quite successful) and self publishing. I don’t mind the idea of hawking my own book and why would I? I’ve been hawking every body else’s products throughout my whole career?

    Frankly, I can probably do a better job that most publishers.

    The only thing holding me back, is — ta da — my damn book’s not finished yet.

    As for rejection — I learned long ago not to take it personally. For that I thank my career in advertising. Everybody and their aunt Millie has opinion about your work. Honestly, I find it makes my work better. Every time I’ve had to go back and re-think something I’ve written, or even start over from scratch, I inevitably end up with something better.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    You, by the way, are a terrific writer, with very high standards. And yes, you are doing quite well getting published. And I know you will do even better.

    • Stick yes! Another thoughtful comment, but should I expect less?

      As far as skill set, my past real life in corporate sales got me very used to daily rejection and the idea that it’s the productivity that bears fruit. It’s just the odds. And not the fruit I expect either I’m sure. Isn’t that how life goes? 🙂

      I support indie publishing simply for the spirit of it. It certainly plays it less safe and for me only encourages my creativity.

      I’d love to see a collection of essays of yours. What’s your “book”? 🙂

      • Yes, the fruit isn’t always what we think it will be. I figure as long as it’s not rotten I can handle it.

        Love indie publishers for the same reasons. They take risks. They’re not at the mercy of a parent who calls the shots. Theyre committed to quality.

        My book? It is a story (and pribabky a memoir) about my mother and me when her health started to fail. She was a combo of auntie mame and lucille ball so it is funny and upbeat, although sad as well, because she did die. It’s about her zest for life and her determination to live it the way she wanted to and my learning curve about accepting reality and caregiving. Unlike most cases, where the kids have the tough conversations with their parents about driving and living aline etc, in our case, she had to have the tough conversations with me.

        When I finish it I have another idea for a book about travel. The title is A Broad Abroad.

        Have to say, I have also been toying with the idea of turning year 1 of my blog into a book.

        Stay tuned.

        Now I’ll bet you’re sorry you asked 🙂

  3. Hi Pete,
    interesting how the panel denigrate the work of ‘some blogger’ when it is clearly obvious that there is huge community who are really are credible writers. I was also instructed by my mentors that a blog was a valuable self marketing tool. This was advice from highly qualified practitioners of the craft. Blogs are also away to increase one’s understanding of tone, or genre and, like you, I never buy books, unless they cost one penny on amazon.

  4. Self-marketing for sure if you want to be read and have people know what you’re doing (for better or worse). Shameless straight up marketing gets a little old and I try hard not to go there, although do share when my stuff appears elsewhere too, why not? Your blog and my blog don’t look like big publishing house author blogs where books are hawked and the author’s doesn’t personally get involved. We’re indie baby!

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