Thursday, September 08, 2011

Your Choices - Nobody Else's

"Dear Hope, I'm living on disability and need a grant so I can write and then publish my book. The publishers I've contacted charge at least $2,000. Where can I find a sponsor?"

 "Dear Hope, I hate my job and need a grant to quit and focus on writing."

"Dear Hope, My job and nonprofit obligations prohibit me from finding enough time to write. Where can I find a grant to replace my income?"

Money. So many of us think that writing has anything to do with money. It doesn't. Publishing and Marketing are what cost.

Writing is the most self-perpetuating, personal-choice talent on the planet. You do it . . . or don't. You practice . . . or don't. There aren't many rules. You start and stop at your leisure, and you make it up as you go. It's as pure a part of you as you could ever define.

So don't say anyone or anything is stopping you from writing. I don't care if you find the only time to scribble while sitting on the toilet, you can isolate 15-30 minutes a day to record those words spinning in your head.

But you want to publish. And therein lies the rub.

==You don't have time to locate all those agents, and don't know where to start.
==You don't feel you have a chance in the traditional world. You aren't sure why, but it's intimidating, and with your limited hours to yourself each day, you don't have time to understand it.
==You don't have the money to self-publish.
==You don't have the money to research your subject.
==You don't understand social  networking well enough to even know where it fits in to publishing. Besides, you don't have the time.
==You don't know what in the world you would blog about to start a platform that agents and publishers keep talking about. 

The problem is clear in each of the above issues. The problem is you.

You make the time to learn about agents, or you risk signing a publishing contract without one. Your choice. You find the money to self-publish, or you face it that you have to learn the traditional publishing business and submit, rewrite, edit, improve, and resubmit until you succeed. Your choice. You isolate the time to social network or don't. Your choice. You figure out how to blog and what to blog about, or you don't. Your choice.

I recently responded to a blog where the poster commented that the lower the income, the easier it is to make a change in your life - to chase a dream. Those people have more options, she said. She accredited higher incomes as confining, restricting the budding writer to stuff, obligations and a routine difficult to break. I strongly disagreed.

"Actually, the size of the income should not matter. Either you have the gumption and the drive to quit the job to travel or write (or whatever your dream is) or you don't. Actually, the higher the income, the MORE latitude you have, since you can bank so much more money and have that financial freedom to do even MORE with your dream. Just because you make a lot of money doesn't mean you have stuff, though. And nothing says you can't dump the stuff, either. Like that's a problem. Also, someone making the $150K income already has a reputation of being a go-getter, thinking before he leaps, planning his moves,  making things line up for him. So when he takes a year off, and comes back, seeking another job, people may actually take him more seriously, because he was successful in the past. You said something along the line of looking differently at your financial situation, in a different light, and how it has the potential to set you free. We agree on that. Any one of us can do what we want, regardless of how much we make. It's all in the planning, logic, and common sense use of our mental and financial resources. The amount of income really doesn't matter."

Maybe we feel the day job isn't a good fit for us as writers. Or we convince ourselves that we make too little money to pursue a writing career, because we have to keep the wolf at the door at bay. We convince ourselves that we have invested so much into our lives that we can't afford the change that might lower our standard of living . . . for us and those under our roof. We have mortgages, car payments and VISA bills. Or we have fixed incomes that give us little room to maneuver without really pinching.

Writing and the publishing business is exploding these days. You have more options that ever to put your story into print. As a minimum, you can throw it up on Amazon as an ebook - completely doing it yourself. No money at all. Or you can spend thousands on the best graphic cover art, editors, book trailers, and cross-country tours.

See that face in the mirror? The one you study each morning while you brush your teeth? That's you. That's your only obstacle. Do not blame the industry. Do not blame other writers. Do not blame society. Do you realize how much it costs to be any other type of artist - like a painter or a dancer or a musician? You've got it good, my friend.

Write. Then publish via the means within your grasp. Don't like that? Then change your means. Don't like that? Then quit. Or start over and reconsider your options. Like I said . . . the choices are all yours.


Sioux Roslawski said...

The choice IS mine. When I don't submit as often as I'd like, it's my fault. My choice.

And you're also right--of the artists, we have the cheapest deal around. A composition book (25 cents during back-to-school sales) and a pencil or pen--steal the pen from your doctor or steal the pencil from the library. And away we write...

laurasalas said...

Yes! Thank you, Hope, for putting the responsibility where it lies. It can be daunting, but it's also exhilarating. Each one of us can do concrete things to reach our goals, and whining about what we think we can't do gets old in a hurry (for everyone around you who's trying to encourage you).

Julia Munroe Martin said...

SO well said. This is absolutely spot-on true. Great post!

Hope Clark said...

Thanks y'all. It bugs me to see people upset, holding themselves back while blaming the world. It's all on us.

Kathleen Basi said...

You're a great one for holding up mirrors to us, you know that? You make us squirm. Not always comfortable, but something we need.

Carol J. Alexander said...

Oh, I've NEVER heard that the low-income have all the advantages before. I DON'T WANT TO QUIT my day's homeschooling my children. It is more important than making any amount of money to me. Therefore, that lack of income means I work on a laptop with a short in the cord, a flicker in the screen, and a period key that only works when it wants to. My first big check bought a new stove because the old one kept shorting out the electricity. The second big check bought this laptop. Now...I know that if the checks don't come, it's nobody's fault but my own. And certainly NOT because of my income level. Thanks for the encouragement, Hope, to persevere. I know I can always come to you for that.

Karen Lange said...

Yes, Hope, absolutely. Hold us accountable! If we want it, we'll go for it. If we don't, we're wasting our time. Thanks, as always.

Jubileewriter said...

Excellent!! As much as I would like to find an easier way to get my work published there is nothing that can replace good old fashion hard work. I am a late-bloomin' author and have no choice but to perfect my craft and learn all I can about social media and blogging. It is a slow hard process but when I have my manuscript published it will be worth it.
Cindy Huff

Hope Clark said...

I am in the process of writing a book proposal on The Confident Writer, and this is one of the most important points in the book. We have to perfect the craft and learn the marketing/networking. There are no short least not without shortcutting the quality as well.

Joni D. Brown said...

I can't believe people have the nerve to ask you such things, or even speak them! Being a successful writer is not a RIGHT. It’s like any other dream. It takes hard work, you fit it in if you want it bad enough and you do not make excuses and ask for handouts. If I am not where I want to be (and I am not) it is my fault. I have no right to ask for a handout because of any reason. I have been ill for 3 or 4 months and I am not using that as an excuse, it is just something I have to deal with and keep on keeping on. I don’t have the right to say, “well Hope, I’ve been sick for months, can you point me to a grant?” Pfffffft. To me, grants should be for writers that have paid their dues and worked hard. Is this what you meant in your other post about not hitting the send button? LOL….I had to say it.

Hope Clark said...

Actually the two posts were composed independent of each other, but I see what you mean.

But I feel strongly about writers sucking it up. It's how they succeed in the long run. It truly is. The writers laced with confidence keep on keeping on, whether dealing with rejection or success.


Hosted By Kelly Parry said...

Tough love but just what I needed to read today. I've whined all those whines and moaned all those moans. Time to suck it up. Make a choice. Do it or don't!