Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just One of Those Days

Being a writer is tough, especially nowadays. It's an odd occupation because you never quite know if you understand it, if you're getting anything right. There's always this mental pull and push between art and making a living. You want to write what and how you want, but you really can't unless you never want to be published. Even once published you don't really know if you've had success. You get reviews and royalty statements but do they really mean anything? Do they answer the questions in your head in any satisfactory way? Do they give you any real feedback about what took place? Do they assure you that it will all happen again?

If you're a plumber, for example, you go to plumbing school and you learn how to fit a toilet. And once you've become an expert at fitting a toilet you can be content in knowing that you can fit a toilet. With writing, today I write an exceptional story, the best I've ever written. It gets published. Everyone loves it. But that doesn't mean that now I know how to produce an exceptional story every day for now on. The next day after the exceptional story day, I'm mostly back to where a started. Maybe a few steps ahead, but only a few. Each story, each book, has its own unique path, one you will discover only if you're lucky. Many wrong paths have been cut through the bush to get to the end. Believe me. I've taken wrong paths.

On top of not knowing what you're really doing, just having this vague idea about how things work, we get to be writers in a time where the publishing industry is in flux and chaos. So not only do I not know what I'm doing, the publishers don't seem to know what they think I should be doing either. Odd books are shooting out of nowhere changing the landscape like a tornado ploughed through (i.e. Fifty Shades of Grey). Today I feel like we're all walking around blindfolded bumping into things, occasionally the things are soft and nice, occasionally they're not, but there's no reason to any of it.

Now if you can't count on publishers, then everyone says do it on your own, so you set out to self-publish. Two thousand people download your books but you've hardly made enough to buy a bag of groceries. You're bone tired trying to let people know about your books, to generate that much needed "hype". Your muse has run away, her wardrobe empty, and she left no number. She won't talk to you until you come back from where you've gone, unencumbered. You really cannot be a salesperson and a writer too. She won't allow it. She says I must choose.

But ...I wished for winter to be over, and it's warmer and maybe there really will be summer this year. And I think we're all okay. And I'm lucky in a million ways. So I'm hoping something will budge and let me see the light again. I'm digging deep looking for the faith.

I'm hoping and hoping it really is just one of those days and tomorrow won't be.


Selma said...

I think one of the hardest things writers face these days is the marketing machine. Most of the writers I know aren't all that comfortable with it. One of the worst things about it is how time consuming it is.

From my perspective, Lauri, you have achieved so much and you have achieved it without compromising that beautiful spirit of generosity you have towards other writers. That is a rare thing these days. So while your financial coffers may not be as full as you'd like, I know your spiritual (good karma) coffers are overflowing. You are, and will continue to be, someone I really look up to in the writing world. Thank you xxx

Lauri said...

Thanks for those kind words, Selma, they really mean a lot.

isabella said...

I just got to know "Lauri" from the Storymoja Hayfestival website. I'm trying to be a writer, and failing. I've had one or two of those write-a-most-amazing-story things that leave me thinking (and everyone else saying) I should be a writer. And I'd love to be. But the things I write are mostly unmarketable, unpublishable (at least as they are)...and I'm too lazy or I don't care to write something people will muse is a god. She will not suffer me to invite anyone else into the shrine. Hearing a bit of that in your writing is...comforting.

Lauri said...

Hi Isabella! Are you going to be a Storymoja? I think you must be true to yourself. Writing should be yours. You can learn along the way but in the end you must write what makes you happy. Only you can tell your story your way.