The New Gatekeeper is You
It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and at first I thought it was just overwhelm, but then I realized, I can’t talk about writing in the same way I once did. There are two reasons: the first is motherhood, which has so profoundly changed my writing practice and my life these nearly three years, but even more so as my son becomes ever more a person with more complex needs. Second, the resculpting of the publishing industry, which seems to be putting more power (and more responsibility) in writers’ hands, has caused me to feel like I am a biologist witnessing the evolution of a species I thought I knew intricately. Certainty is giving way to curiosity andd doubt.
What I do know are making their truths more evident every day and they finally feel worthy of a blog post
First–craft is crucial. We should always be striving to write as though there are gatekeepers to success. Those gatekepers may increasingly become fewer publishers/agents and more individual readers we find and reach on our own, but they will remain. This means that self-publishing even more than ever will be challenged to never become the route of: “I don’t have to work as hard.” You’re writing to say something, to entertains and awaken, enrich or share, after all. In fact, with no mighty engine of publisher behind you, you may in fact, have to work harder than ever. And why wouldn’t you want to? This brings me to point two:
Second: writing has to count for something greater than becoming a name or finding a platform, even making a living, worthy a livelihood as it may be. For me, in this new life as a mother, where my time to write wars with my time to earn money, all of which pales in comparison to the need to give my child what he deserves, my writing has to contribute to the quality of my being, to my sanity, happiness, and spiritual fulfillment. Otherwise it’s just another thing to check off a list, another thing that I am turning away from my family to do.
Perhaps what I am saying is no different from what else is being said across the blogosphere, but it is suddenly, urgently important to me. We must hone our craft, not just because money or audience or fame is at stake, but as a practice, a refuge, a betterment of ourselves, just as you would carefully build a house or a chair or make a meal out of practicality and love.
So whether you wait for the iron gates of existing publishing to open from your efforts, or you forge your own path, keep the deepest parts of yourself in mind, your heart, your soul, and the people who look to you.
Make yourself proud.
“We should write because…writing claims our world. It makes it directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance as well.
We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.”
–Julia Cameron, the Right to Write