I was about to ask, when you see someone knitting a pair of socks, do you ask them whether they’ve sold any socks yet?
I wanted to illustrate my point. Then, I remembered Etsy and realized that even that analogy no longer works. If you’re a writer and brave and smart enough to call yourself a writer, you probably have encountered this question or some variation of it: Have you published any books? A recent version of that question I was asked recently: Did you self-publish your book? Because heaven forbid that you did not pass through the proper gatekeepers. Certainly, unless you have the right amount of luck, persistence through pain (rejection), and proper appeal to the target market, you can’t really call yourself a writer. Maybe, just maybe, if you work your social media connections and grab yourself a Patreon account, with enough followers, you will be worthy of your assumed title:
What I’m writing to say to you is that you are an insidious lie of the worst kind. Worth does not come from marketability or earning potential. Worth isn’t earned.
Worth is inherent and the subscription is free lifetime access for all. You are clipping the wings of too many fledglings with the insidious way you creep into our thoughts, cloud our dreams, and dominate the conversations.
Writers might be asked far more interesting questions if it weren’t for your strangle-hold on the imaginations of the masses. For instance, Writing seems really hard. How do you do it? Or How do you decide what to write about? Or What do you hope people take away from reading your book?
I get why so many people are caught in your deception. For some it’s a matter of putting food on the table. That’s one nice thing about being a writer with a day job. Making time is more difficult, for sure, but at least I can write and write and write and not worry a damn about how much money it brings in.
I am writing this open letter in case anyone needs a reminder today about the things that actually make you a writer. The fact that you sit down regularly to write, for starters. The fact that you are constantly trying to get better at your craft through reading and conversations with other writers and readers. The fact that you believe in the power of words and stories to change the world.
As for you, dear subject. You are a liar. A dirty liar.
With a hearty flip of the bird,
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Some past posts to keep you making time:
It’s about the routine and how you shake up the routine
There are things you will have to give up
Monday, a run through the driving rain
Oneliness–A meditation on poetry, a particular poem by e.e. cummings