Process 05d – ‘Til Death You Two Part…on October 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm
As a writer, the list of things you cannot control is depressingly long. Much like life, and not, in my opinion, without coincidence.
You cannot control the reception of your work.
From editors to publishers to the audience. You can try to stack this deck with your style, your story, your characters, but ultimately, it’s out of your hands. People will love it, hate it, not give a rat’s ass about it, ignore it, be oblivious to it. You can crow and holler and shout to the heavens, you can promote like P.T. Barnum, but in the end, the reader’s response is their own. Your say in the matter ended when you locked the document, when you went to press, when you crossed the Rubicon and published.
You cannot control the market.
It is its own beast, and trying to anticipate it is a game few can play well, and fewer actually succeed at. Your audience may know what they want, or they may think they know what they want, but the fact remains that literary (and broader entertainment) success has been its most glorious when the audience met a work it didn’t know it was aching for. Write what you want to read, and trust that others will want to read it, too. Otherwise, you end up in a market over-saturated with, say, young vampires in love.
There is so very much beyond your control.
But, universally, the one thing you have absolute, complete mastery of is your commitment. Your commitment to your craft, to your Art, to your story, to yourself. Your commitment to being honest, disciplined, and courageous. Your commitment to work. Your commitment to improve – by doing the work, by reading within and without your preferred fields, by observing and experiencing the world. Writers don’t take vacations. Writers don’t get days off. Writers don’t stop, ever.
Commitment means that your writing is your work, and everything else is a job. While Discipline will put you in the chair and get you to pick up the pen, it’s your Commitment that’ll bring you to that chair day after day, year after year, rejection after rejection.
I tossed out the chestnut last time, a writer writes.
Honesty requires that you find the truth of your writing, no matter how fantastic your world or characters may be.
Courage requires that you take risks, that you scare yourself, that you push your limits.
Discipline requires doing the work, over and over and over again.
Commitment takes all of these things and packages them into a writer. Commitment is the difference between the person who “would love to write a novel” and the writer who does. And who then writes a second while the first is resting for revision. And begins a third while the first is being roundly rejected.
So much is beyond your control.
This isn’t. This is yours.