“Real writers don’t write to get published. They write just to write.” – Jeff Goins
I was sure I’d heard someone like Neil Gaiman say something similar – that a lot of people don’t want to be writers, they just want to be published – but I couldn’t find the reference. Jeff Goin’s quote will do.
I’d like to think I’m a real writer – nothing gives me greater pleasure – but Jeff, I’d sure love to be published. However, it’s not about fame or fortune; it’s about external validation.
It’s all very well having friends and family tell you how wonderful you are, to tell you how much they enjoy your emails from abroad and that you should write a book about it. They’re supposed to say that – that’s why they’re friends.
I don’t know many creative people who don’t have at least some measure of self-doubt. Some of us have Inner Critics with very loud voices. So even if a horde of people you know tell you how fantastic your new book/ song/ artwork is, the Inner Critic will invariably chime in with “Well, of course they would say that. They’re trying to be nice.”
Even when I’ve asked, pleaded, for honest feedback and that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, the self-confidence it invokes tends to dissipate after about a week and you wonder if they were just saying that to be encouraging.
“The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
Sylvia obviously knew what she was talking about.
Publication of your work means someone who doesn’t know you, who has no vested interest in maintaining your happiness, thinks your work is worthy. This is what will finally allow you to tell the Inner Critic, “I told you so.” (And, in my case, “So shut up and go away!”)
Whether it’s publication of a novel, an offer to exhibit by a local gallery, or a recording contract, recognition of one’s work by The Stranger is surely the secretly held dream of all creatives.
And one last word from art critic Robert Hughes:
“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” – Robert Hughes
On this basis, I should have publishers banging down my door any day now…