I love, love, LOVE that YouTube video from Tyler Perry. I think I’ve watched it 20-30 times since he first posted it. Even so, I’m struggling over here! I want to follow Tyler’s advice. I do. I REALLY do!
And yet…I am a scattered, shiny-new-idea kind of person. It is my True Nature. I am a Renaissance Soul. Leonardo Da Vinci certainly didn’t focus on one thing. Neither did Benjamin Franklin. Why do I have to focus? WHY???
(Okay…I’m just ranting. Actually, I know the answer to that question. And I am fully aware that I possess not 1/10th of the intelligence, talent &/or drive that my boys Leo and Ben possessed.)
Here’s the questions that haunt me: What if I have focused on one idea and spent all my water on one seed that will NOT bring all the luck and grace and growth that I am seeking? What if I’m watering the wrong seed? At what point do you stop staring at one empty, lifeless plot of earth and move on to plant a new seed?
To be clear, I’m not contemplating the abandonment of my first novel. Oh no, far from it. I’m not ready to hide my first novel in a drawer and give up on it. Noooooo!
What I am actually contemplating, have been chewing over for two weeks, is the terrible, wonderful and absolutely terrifying possibility of going out on my own and self-publishing it. I mean, there are still plenty of agents I have not queried and small publishing houses I have not even considered. That said, submitting through the traditional channels is a time-consuming, soul-sucking and creativity-killing process. And there are plenty of resources out there — honest, ethical, reliable resources — who are preaching the values of self-publishing in the new, 21st century world of publishing.
It’s a terrible thing to live under a question mark.
That used to be the opening line of my novel. It’s not the opening line in my most recent draft. I had to murder that darling (to paraphrase Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch or Fitzgerald or Faulkner or Stephen King or just about every two-bit writing teacher out there), but it’s still my favorite line. It also neatly sums up how I feel about living in this quasi-hopeful, twilight void world of traditional submissions.
Maybe I’ll make it my tagline. If I decide to self-publish. Which scares the crap out of me!!!
You see, self-publishing is not for the scattered. It’s not for the lazy. It’s not for the self-doubters. Oh no! It is a huge investment of all my love, energy, time and [metaphorically-speaking] water. It is a huge exercise in faith. Honestly, the expense of self-publishing is the least of my worries. I’ve spent 5-10 times what it will cost to self publish on writing conferences, writing seminars, classes and books. If anything, I might be saving money if I just go ahead and self-publish.
But what I’ll be missing, what I really, truly want, is the DREAM.
I suppose I should define the publishing DREAM from my point of view because I’m sure it looks different for every aspiring author out there.
My DREAM starts with someone, some professional person with a credible level of publishing expertise, who reads my manuscript and says, “I get it. I love your writing and I believe in this novel. I’m going to suggest some improvements, but I am on your team. You’ve got talent and I know how to make the most of it.”
There’s more to my version of the DREAM, but that’s the essential piece that I will forfeit with self-publishing.
When you self-publish you have to be all that for yourself and more. There is no team. There is only me. Me shouting out at the world, “Hey everybody! Look at me! Look at my book. Here’s my book. Please buy it. Please read it. Please love it.”
Going back to Tyler Perry’s video…I just watched it again for the 21st or 31st time. When I first decided to post it on this blog, I just planned on writing a quick blurb about how much trouble I was having with my own focus. But, as I wrote this post, something struck me. Hard. Tyler Perry put up his own money to stage that first play. And when he failed the first time (1992), he put up more money…over and over and over until he found the audience he always knew was out there. I believe that’s the equivalent of self-publishing for a screenwriter/director/producer/actor. Don’t you agree?
What do you think? Is it possible to still find the DREAM and self-publish? Or is self-publishing the new path to the DREAM? Or do I just need to get over myself and write a new version of the DREAM?