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Modern Author Problems
Like certain types of sharks, it seems the modern author has a motion problem. Well, a lack of motion problem anyway. If we aren't moving, we die.
Well, maybe more just sink to the bottom of the Internet ocean to settle on the bottom with all the other scuttled things. Which is troubling to folks who want their words to stand out, or at least float enough to be snagged in a reader's net on occasion.
This has been on my mind of late after I read THIS fantastic post by the inimitable Anne R. Allen. In the article, Anne confronts the popular notion that, for indie authors specifically, you have to write quickly to survive. That if you're not constantly bolstering your catalogue, the tide will surely sweep you away.
I loved this little bit of wisdom she shared:
"Because a writing career is not a race or a contest.
It has to be a source of joy. It doesn't pay well enough to be anything else."
She cited one of our dear blogging-writing friends (and the dude behind this IWSG thing), Alex J. Cavanaugh, as proof of this concept.
Alex is an admittedly slow writer. He works full time outside of writing, he plays in a band, and is an insane blogger. But he's also a bestselling author, even though he's only putting out a book (or less) every year.
Then there are stalwarts like George R. R. Martin, who puts out another volume in his popular Song of Ice & Fire (Game of Thrones) series whenever he damn well feels like it.
Ultimately, I definitely agree with Anne when it comes to the actual writing, and I sure hope we're right. Because some of us struggle to do it any other way.
Sometimes the words flow well for me and I can crank out a few thousand words in a sitting. Other times, I'll labor over a single scene for hours. But there's definitely no consistency to what I do.
However, when it comes to a successful writing career, there's unfortunately just more to it than the writing nowadays. (Which Anne is definitely aware of, by the way--I don't want to suggest that she isn't.)
Alex is one of the most prolific bloggers in existence. He's everywhere, so much so that there've been entire blogfests devoted to trying to uncover his ninja-like methods. :) That guy is moving.
Anne mentions that she is a 'slow blogger', meaning she doesn't post every day. She, along with her co-blogger Ruth Harris, has defied popular logic that content generation is key by winning bunches of awards and amassing a large following.
Well let me tell you, that lady is a mover too! Her Twitter account is a must-follow, her G+ account the only one you really need in your feed if you're a writer, and her blog posts are like going to school.
And Martin has an unbelievably popular television franchise keeping us well aware of his universe even when there's nothing new to read. Not to mention, he's been in the writing game a LONG time.
I have to think those things play a part in their publishing success as well. And it has led me to this conclusion: We, the authors building our careers right now, will be successful to the extent we are active.
If we aren't writing, we need to be blogging, tweeting, pinning, or reading (and sharing what we think about our reading). There needs to be an almost constant awareness of what we're up to or we're essentially perceived to be up to nothing.
And that's where I get all sweaty and gross, because being perpetually engaged is tiring and sometimes just downright unpleasant for me.
I call it a modern author problem, because I don't think authors of yore faced this dilemma. It was expected that you wouldn't hear from an author until their next greatest book was ready to be read. Maybe they'd do the occasional interview on TV if they were really famous, but that's about it. The book WAS the author in that way.
Now, we can (and are) identified by so many other things besides our actual writing that we are forced into a tireless loop of performing if only for the sake of not vanishing completely.
And I don't know about y'all, but it puts me in an ongoing state of inadequacy when it comes to my writing aspirations. There's always something more I could be doing, or doing better, it seems.
What about you? Do you feel any pressure to constantly be present? Are you a slow writer, blogger, etc.? What's your impression of the successful authors out there? Are they pumping out new work at a breathless rate?