I Heart Tyler Perry…But I Still Can’t Focus

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?


5 thoughts on “I Heart Tyler Perry…But I Still Can’t Focus

  1. Think about this analogy: bases loaded. You can get a hit and score or take a walk. The bottom line is it counts as one run no matter what you do as long as you don’t strike out. Some people would be happy to take the walk while others would want to get a hit get the glory but also risk striking out.

    Just don’t be uncle rico because let’s face it no one really liked uncle rico.

    • JSJ!! How are you?!?! Are you still writing?

      Hmmm….OK, help me out here. In the baseball analogy, self-publishing is taking the walk, right? Or, to put it into football terms, it’s 4th down in the 4th Quarter and I’m within 40 yards of the opposing team’s end zone. Self-publishing would be kicking for 3, but trying to run/pass for the 1st down (or TD) is holding out for the DREAM….yes? And I am NOT Uncle Rico! Uncle Rico = selling Tupperware and letting the book die a slow death in my desk drawer. Won’t happen.

  2. If I were you, I would self – publish, and then sit back and ENJOY the fruits of your HARD WORK.

    Being a writer shouldn’t be painful, as it is something you enjoy, and are good at! and……..
    I want a copy of the book!

    • Hi Jerry! There’s a good chance I’m going to end up taking your advice but I’ll probably gnaw on this bone for a few more weeks. And I don’t get to SIT BACK to enjoy the fruits of my hard work. I will have to SELL my hard work. GULP!!! You know how allergic I am to SALES. Perhaps, if I decide to go this self-pub route, you can give me some ideas, tips, advice?

  3. Yes. It is hard living under a question mark. I love that line.

    I wrote to my agent just this week, in fact, and told her I just wanted her to tell me what to write and when to write it.

    Contracts and advances help because they force wildly creative people to focus and meet deadlines (theoretically, anyway).

    Today self-pubbing is gaining all kinds of respect. That happens when people start making millions doing a thing. People stop sneering. But I am like you, wanting someone to tell me, “I get it, I love it, let me partner with you to make your great book even better.”

    I’d set up a business as a writer’s coach, so I could tell self-published author how brilliant they were, but they wouldn’t want to hear it from me. What do I know? I think, though, that a problem with many writers is that no one will ever be good enough. Whoever tells us we’re good won’t be very smart in our opinions, because we know we’re frauds.

    I was watching Hope Floats last night and liked this bit from Justin when he was talking about the house he designed and was building:

    I know exactly what you meant. The American Dream. You find something you love,
    then you twist and torture it, trying to find a way to make money at it. Spend a lifetime doing that. At the end, there’s not a trace of what you started out lovin’.

    In the end if we are going to enjoy writing, we need to just enjoy writing. Being published, traditionally or self-pubbed–is a whole different thing. Either way will move you into the torturing it and trying to make money at it, realm, I think. Whether we will be published is a question mark, but it doesn’t have to steal the joy of creating a thing of beauty simply for the joy it gives you to create it.

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