No, first is early. As in, 9 A.M. is too stinking early to wake up when you didn’t go to sleep until after 4 A.M. And I can’t even blame an alarm clock; I just woke up. Very frustrating. Nothing was keeping me from sleeping later. So, I will endeavour to make sense, but my apologies if I don’t.
Just this week, a blog post I wrote in December gained new life and visitors and shares skyrocketed. I’ll talk more about that post and what happened in tomorrow’s post. (Look at me! Planning ahead and stuff!) Today I want to talk about separating a writer or artist from her work.
I think what I’m saying applies to all creators, whether they be writers, painters, or sculptors, but I’m going to use writing through most of this, because it’s what I do, and it’s easier to have one focus. Also, I’m trying to stick to less than 500 words.
I’ve heard authors say that once you publish a book, you’ve released it into the world, and, as with a child you have raised and molded into what you hope is a compassionate, giving person rather than an axe-murderer, you must let go. You have no control over whether anyone likes or dislikes your work. You’ve put what you had into it and your part is done. I agree completely.
As a writer, you must write. There is no “Will I?” or “Should I?” You’ve been given the talent and the inspiration. The only thing you get to choose is if you will discipline yourself to explore and develop that talent. You are a writer. That’s it. You write. You learn, you live, then you write some more.
If a piece fails to reach an audience, that is not your concern. (Assuming you are using good grammar, spelling, syntax, etc. I’m not talking about the technical aspects of writing today. You should never publish something that you know is riddled with errors.) I’m not talking about marketing, either. I’m talking about emotion. If something was inside you and had to make its way onto your screen or paper, then once it’s out, release it. It did its job for you. It is done. It may not have been meant for anyone else. And, oh, I know it is so hard. That’s your baby sitting in the corner of the playground being ignored by the other kids. Protect your kids, but let your writing live its own life.
But what if it’s wildly successful? Doesn’t that mean I am successful and get to take full credit? You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But you’d be wrong. Of course, it’s your work and you should get paid and all that jazz, but whether your work is a blog post that’s gone viral or a best-selling book, you are not the reason for its popularity. Ah, and this is where ego comes in. I know, because while most of my blog posts don’t get much response, when one does, it’s so easy for me to think, “Look at me! I’m a good writer! They love me! They really love me!” Except – no. The work is popular because it touches something in the reader. Something about what you wrote brings out some kind of emotion or strikes a chord with them, and makes them want to tell others how “great” it is. But it is your work, not you, they are sharing.
So, writers keep writing, painters keep painting, sculptors keep sculpting, and all you other talented creators out there keep creating. But remember that while a part of yourself goes into everything you create – just as with your children – you are not your work and your work is not you.
(Sorry, this was a little longer than 500 words.)