Thursday, February 13, 2014

Worth it?

Natalie Whipple had a great post the other day about being a midlist author. A sample: "It seems like in the online writing community we're afraid to talk about that, as if it's this horrible thing to be. When really most authors are midlist." She goes on to discuss the gap between expectations and reality, and how brutal that gap can be. "'Is this worth it?'" she asks, wondering whether we get back less than we put in.

The only thing I know for myself is that I'm happiest when I'm writing something I really believe in, and it's a joy when someone else responds to it. It's even more of a joy if I can get paid for it. It's tough when I don't get paid, tough when my work doesn't find readers, but worst of all is when I myself am unhappy with the story, or don't know how to finish it, or don't have confidence in it. Every story that I work on gives me at least a few moments of pure, absolute confidence, and at least a few moments of wild doubt.

Of course I want other people to love my work. I want the external rewards of money and recognition; the very act of publishing says that. But the only thing I can rely upon is the work itself, and how I feel about it. When I ask myself, "Is this worth it?" I cannot possibly answer yes unless I factor in the emotional, spiritual and psychological rewards of writing.

Anne Lamott goes on about this at length in Bird by Bird, especially in the chapter called "Publication," which I turn to again and again, when this business gets too crazy.


  1. I write because my passion for fiction writing jumpstarts my spirit. I didn't pick fiction writing from a "minnie-miney-mo" selection of other possible creative endeavors. So whether it's worth it or not, I write because I can't imagine any other way to live my life.

    1. For so many of us, it's an end in itself--no matter what other rewards it brings.