Writing is a funny thing, isn't it?
Actually, CREATING is a funny thing. I've managed to create some amazing things in my brief 30 years of life, but none of them come close to my family. Keeping my daughter and my husband happy is an accomplishment requiring endless effort from all three of us. But when I think of that effort in any great detail, writing is the same way. Any creative effort or career is the same way.
As I climb the trail to the top of a mountain, I look into the eyes of the hikers who pass me on their way back down. They always look exhausted, but fulfilled. When I get to the top, I look down at all the steps I had to take to get to the summit, and it always amazes me. The view is always worth it. I don't need validation from someone on the top telling me I wore the right boots to get there.
Some of us take large steps. Some of us take short steps. I've even seen some people hike barefoot or with a cane or a child strapped on their back. We all do things differently, and I'm certain there will always be people out there criticizing how we do them, and there will also be people out there telling us we need validation to feel satisfied, or we need a lot of sales, or an agent, or a huge book deal, or a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list.
I started seriously writing when I was 16 years old. I looked like this on top of the mountain near where I live:
I look a bit heavier now, and older, and I lost the bangs, but other than that I look the same. I'm still writing about the same things, too, essentially. I still have that same drive and ambition. I wrote books because I loved to write and there weren't any books in the small-town library that I liked. I'd read all the ones worth reading, so I decided it was time to bring more books into the world. I'm still doing that.
My decision to self-publish one of my books has been a difficult one. Self-publishing seems to be a hot topic right now, and I've seen a thousand different opinions about it (many very negative), but in the end, I'm happy with my decision. Davin and I were talking yesterday about how we'll both feel satisfied when people we don't know send us emails about how much they enjoy our work. Amazing that it doesn't matter how you publish if your goal is something along those lines. I think there comes a point in our lives where we have to ask ourselves why we chase after the creative process, and it's essential that we answer honestly. For me, the answer was this: in the long run, some things simply don't matter, like how I share my work. It simply matters that I share it with as many as I can by the means I currently have available. Bigger plans will come later, and they may or may not include what others consider success. Success is what you make it, not what others dictate.
It looks like there's an interesting contest going on over at The Clarity of Night. You should hop on board! All you have to do is write a 250-word flash fiction piece prompted by this image:
The prizes are very generous! $100 for the first place winner alone! And even more dough for other winners. Yay! I'm definitely entering. I always end up writing some good fiction because of a contest or prompt.