Having become ‘re-energised’ – self-publishing books via Amazon, joining the local Writers’ Group, even entering competitions! – I have also re-made a discovery that is both ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
Yesterday I was doing some research on indie publishing spurred on by a concern that Amazon’s KDP may not be the best platform for me, and sniffed around some community forums on the subject. On Tuesday, I attended the latest meeting of our bi-weekly Writers’ Group where I read a short poem, ‘Exodus’ – the only poem in a forest of short fiction and memoirs. I’ve also been checking out various poetry competitions, with the upshot being that I’ve just entered one, snuck under the wire, closing date today.
And all these related threads demonstrate something that is both brilliant and daunting. And it’s all about maths.
Take the Writers’ Group. How many such groups are there in the UK? 500? 1,000? 5,000? And if each one has on average 15 attendees…? Or self-publishers. Hundreds if not thousands in the UK alone. And competitions: there are lots – and lots of past winners, and even more entrants.
The good news – the brilliant news – is that there are so many people being creative with words. Millions and millions of words.
The bad news – especially if you aspire to ‘standing out’ in some way, being ‘different’ – is that there are so many people being creative with words…
My guess is that lots of people write as a ‘hobby’. But lots of people write because they think they have a special talent for it. Even if, in reality, they are ‘hobbyists’, they may still believe that they are one of the talented few – “waiting to be discovered”. After all, isn’t that what we really want? (And isn’t our greatest fear finding out that we aren’t ‘special’ at all..?!)
But the truth of the matter is that talent – the ability to put one word in front of another – isn’t enough. You need talent, hard work, the kind of imagination that lets you see things – then through things and around things. You need time, perseverance, tenacity, intuition. You need friends, supporters. All that.
But most of all you need readers, and you need luck. Someone who happens to come across something you’ve written. Someone who lands on your webpage. Someone who picks up your pamphlet; a judge who likes your work; a friend who has a friend in the publishing industry…
Good news AND bad news. And incredibly daunting.
Think about it too much and it could make you cash in your chips and give up.
So, I’ll stop thinking about it now and keep plugging away. Here’s another blog..!