On Trying to be a Sellout

Let me put it bluntly.

Half of me thinks I’m a sell-out. A phony. A grotesque capitalist pig who has an irrationally high opinion of himself and thinks he’s worth a lot more than he really is.

That’s what half of me thinks, anyways.

And the other half?

The other half simply thinks I need to make peace with all of that.

No more creative writing?

As I mentioned in my last post, by and large I won’t be posting my creative writing on this site anymore. This was not an easy decision. If there’s one thing most writers love (myself included), it’s to share his or her works with as many people as possible. After all, writing is a medium – a medium for sharing ideas, for sharing emotions, for expressing ourselves, for connecting to others. Many of us write because we want to be read. And many of us want to be read because we want to be understood. We crave the interpersonal connections that writing creates.

Posting my fiction on here was a quick and easy way to accomplish that goal. Instant gratification. And I was doing it for free. And because it was for free, it felt pure. It felt honest.

It felt like art.

Sounds like a win-win, right?

Wrong.

Because I couldn’t shake off one cold, nagging truth:

Writing isn’t just an art.

Full disclosure: this isn’t an original idea of mine. I actually viciously plagiarized it straight out stole it “borrowed it” from Mr. Chuck Wendig, a New York Times best selling author and bearded blogger extraordinaire. He shares tons of invaluable writing advice over at his blog Terrible Minds. You should check it out. Now. As in, right now. Yes, you have my permission to leave here. As long as…you know…you eventually come back.

Anyway, Mr. Wending absolutely nails it in a post entitled “Exposing Yourself” (author’s note: not in the sort of way that involves a zipper and a restraining order):

Writing is work. It’s a job. A career. Abstractly, it’s no different than swinging a hammer or replacing an alternator under the hood of a car. Now, in practical terms, writing is a whole big bag of different, but I don’t want to stray too far from the idea that writing is work, and work is something that ideally pays you.

This.

I spend a lot of hours writing and editing. A lot of hours. Probably more hours than it should take a normal person. Which forces me to ask myself a simple question: are there opportunity costs associated with all of these hours?

Fuck yes, there are.

I could (perhaps even should) pick up more hours at my job. Or find a second job. Make some extra dough. Or I could be more social. Go out with friends. Go on some dates. Or more realistically, go to a Starbucks and stare at a barista awkwardly.

But no. Instead, I’m at my desk, hammering away on a keyboard. Writing. Editing. Rewriting. Re-editing. Hammering, hammering, hammering.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I love to write. But ideally, it’d be really nice to be paid for all that work. For all that time spent. For all of those opportunity costs. Money is pretty great, after all. Money helps me pay bills. Money helps me treat myself to nice things. It can also make me feel as if I’ve accomplished something pretty cool (and yes, I know that sounds shallow. Just hang on).

Posting my work for free on this blog was simply not accomplishing that goal.

But it goes further than money.

If you continue reading Mr. Wendig’s post, he goes onto question whether or not it makes sense to even post your work in a publication that doesn’t pay. While his argument makes total sense and he’s well within the right, it’s where I unfortunately need to diverge just a little bit from him.

You see, Mr. Wendig is a New York Time’s best selling author. On the other hand, the closest I’ve ever been to the New York Time’s best selling list is when I used a newspaper to housebreak my dog.

The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of writers out there. And I mean a lot. A lot a lot. A shit-ton, in mathematical terms. Statistically, there exists three writers for every human being on this planet (don’t do the math). What I’m saying is, competition is fierce. It’s a buyers’ market. Which means that it’s often tough enough to get featured in a publication that doesn’t pay diddly.

But I can at least make peace with this.

Because it isn’t just about being paid. Being paid is nice, but it’s not everything. There’s also the benefits of competition.

I know myself. And I know that, despite my editing process and my endless stream of self-criticism, I’m ultimately weak. I’m weak for that feeling of instant gratification. Of being able to say “fuck it, good enough” and to just post something here. I used to love watching the views roll in after posting a story. I’d wait intently for the likes. For the re-blogs. Sometimes, even for a comment or too.

It was instant gratification. And it was weak.

Submitting to publications helps me change that. Because if I happen to get lucky enough to be featured in a publication, I at least can assume that there was some sort of selection process. That my work was judged and critiqued against others and, through that process, was deemed to be acceptable – hell, maybe even OK.

And if I get rejected? Back to the drawing board. Back to work. Back to getting better at my craft.

You see where I’m getting at?

It was a tough decision, to no longer post my creative writing. I really, really enjoyed seeing my work on here. I enjoyed sharing it with you all.

But ultimately, I was being weak. I was making it way too easy on myself. And as such, I was doing myself a disservice.

If I want to strive towards that next level, I need to cast off the old security blanket. I need to run around naked, and I need to flap around awkwardly in the wind. I’ll get rejected, sure. I’ll get rejected a lot. More often than I get published. But hopefully, this will make me better. This will make me tougher.

And if on the off-chance I don’t get rejected? Or if I even get paid for a piece of work.

Even better.

Of course, some of you – hell, many of you – won’t need to do this. But as of right now, I do.

 

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