Sunday, March 13, 2011

Reality

People talk about the pressures of the publication process, the down times that writers generally don't expect because we go into it thinking that publication is the end zone, the part where you float up on a fluffy cloud, fulfilled forever, and nothing bad happens ever again. Naturally, the reality is that publication gives an author many special, beautiful moments, and it brings a few moments that are like a smack upside the head, but mostly life tends to go on as before. Publication won't fill your cavities, mow your lawn, or drive your dog to the vet. Life goes on.

I've noticed that many of the down times are based on a gap between expectation and reality. Writers can get caught up in what kind of story they think they should be writing, how much promotion they think they should be doing, which award they think they should have won, how many copies they think they should have sold. And while it's great to have goals, there comes a point where we have to stop and enjoy the spot we're standing on.

Often, I find that this simple switch in mindset flips me from anxiety to contentment. Yes, it would be nice if I could write description like John Updike or humor like David Sedaris or carry off the intricate wordplay of Vladimir Nabokov, but guess what? If people want to read that, they can read the original Updike and Sedaris and Nabokov, rather than some poor imitation. And yes, it would be nice to have Stephen King's income, but he's been at this a lot longer than I have. I'd love to win a Printz or a National Book Award, but I have no control over that.

The only one who is ever going to write like me is--me. And that's what I "should" be doing, the main thing I need to do.

The only one who can write like you is you.

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