I'd like to introduce, my dear friend Terena Scott, writer, editor and owner of Medusa's Muse. Medusa's Muse is a small press publishing company, specializing in memoir and creative non-fiction. Her blog post is about something we writers have experienced a few times in our writing career.
How many of you feel that if you're not earning money with your writing, then you're not really a writer? Deep down, do you feel doubt in your abilities as an artist if no one pays you for what you create? Does price denote value?
I do. That's why I dabble at writing. I write "when I have time." When all the bills have been paid and phone calls returned and emails sent, when the house is clean, dishes done, laundry folded and put away. When the plants have been watered and my desk cleaned off and all the grocery shopping done. Then, and only then, am I allowed to write.
And this attitude bleeds into Medusa's Muse too. I edit manuscripts because I owe that to my authors; I do it for them. But everything else, the promotion of my press, updating the website, marketing books, lining up teaching gigs, record keeping and networking… all of those things that help my press thrive get put on the list called "when I have time."
This is called sabotage. I am sabotaging myself by not dedicating the same focus and energy to my press and my writing that I gave to grad school. It was easy to give focus to grad school, because that would eventually lead to a job and a paycheck. A so called real job. My press is a job, but it doesn't make much money, therefore it doesn't feed my family. The press feeds itself. I can't justify devoting time to it when it doesn't sustain me economically.
Which is bullshit, because my press sustains me in every other way but economics. It feeds my soul, my spirit, my artistic needs and creativity. Writing feeds me in even deeper ways. Why does economics always take priority?
Yes, we have to eat and keep a roof over our head. Making money is very important, especially if you have children. We live in this world which requires sacrifice sometimes to survive. I'm not knocking the importance of work.
But we must not let that importance destroy the other things that are important, especially our art.
And if you find yourself saying things like, "I don't have time to write" or "The grocery shopping is way more important right now" then it's time to take a good long look at your priorities. Are you saying this because it's true? Or are you finding an excuse to quit, and in so doing sabotage yourself.
Sabotage. The power to destroy your art before you've devoted yourself to it.
I know I'm just as guilty as anyone of sabotage, and I'm trying hard to stop. My press is important, not just to my authors, but for the joy it brings me. So why do I just dabble at publishing rather than treat it like the job it is?
I don't know, other than I must believe on some deep level that I don't deserve to be a successful publisher and writer.
Have you ever felt that way?