I'm having a blast with the Carpe Annum--Seize the Year! theme. There's a giddiness that comes close to inebriation in letting the shackles fall to the ground, shrugging off the old way of thinking, and following the simple path of your own creation.
I call it a simple path not because it's easy, but because a home-grown path is likely one less riddled with rules, rankle, and recrimination than those created by industry.
My simple path this year includes backing away from all the smack talk that happens in publishing. I'm as tough skinned and opinionated as ever, but instead of yapping my head off online about, for instance, what I think about Jerry Jenkins starting a vanity press where hopeful writers can lay down ten grand to have their book published (ooh, bet ya want to weigh in on that, eh?), I'm saving my energy to forge my own path.
That is what I think is at the root of all the smack talk you hear floating around the industry: different writers making choices about their work and then feeling the need to defend their position.
I'm all for the first part: make your own choices about your work.
Want to vanity publish? Self publish? Keep knocking at the closed doors of traditional publishers? Something in between?
Go. For. It.
As long as you are making the choice you need to make, and you've thought out the long term consequences (inasmuch as that's possible), and you're not motivated by fear--do what you need to do.
Hold the phone.
The greatest foe of creativity.
This past week I've done some career stuff that has me pretty afraid. I had to make hard decisions that, while simultaneously fighting a stomach bug, had me shaking in my boots (oh, okay, I'm a writer so I was shaking in my bedroom slippers.)
Fear is everywhere.
Fear of missing that opportunity with that agent.
Fear of messing up a relationship with a publisher.
Fear this. Fear that.
Fear wants you walking on tip-toe, holding your breath.
Fear keeps you focused on the "what if" and the "I can't."
Fear tethers you to the rules that no longer work for you.
Fear will keep you from producing honest work.
Fear begins every sentence with "What will so-and-so think?"
Fear smack talks other people's choices.
Truthfully, it doesn't matter what I think about other people's publishing choices. It's not my decision. The only thing I need to worry about is how to wrestle my fear to the ground. That should take all my creative time and energy and I'll have none left over for dissing other people's walk.
And once I get that sucker under control, I'll be able to look around and see that everyone else is doing the same thing: fighting their fear. And all I will be left with is admiration, and a sense of honour to be among these courageous souls.
Carpe Annum with courage and grace, friends.