Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thoughts on The Craft -- c.anne.gardner

Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing. It comes and goes, but if one believes, then miracles occur.
-- Henry Miller

Since I began my journey down the path of Indie publishing, one thing I can say for sure is that enthusiasm isn't in short supply. Sometimes there is a bit too much enthusiasm, I fear, and it's often mixed with a healthy dose of delusional naiveté. Sadly, that is the vast majority of self-published authors, and the Lulus of the world make a small fortune from them.

On the flip side of that are the serious writers. For art or otherwise, we are talking about the authors who have faith. Not blind faith in their own work, but faith in the word, in the art form, in the mindset, in the process, and in the path to publication, be that the Traditional route or the Indie route. And let me tell you something here: They know, without a doubt, that enthusiasm and delusion only go so far. It doesn't take long for reality to settle in -- the reality that the real writing is in the revision and editing part of the process, that the first draft isn't total genius, that an editor isn't going to "fix" everything, and that no one is going to sell the book for them. As crushing as it all seems, the reality of the matter is that writing is writing, as difficult and frustrating as it might be, but publishing is a whole convoluted mess unto itself and more hard friggin' work than any humble self-respecting writer deserves to endure. Doesn't matter if you are working the query process or tackling all the technical aspects of DIY Indie Publishing. Enthusiasm won't get you there, only faith will. Faith gives you the stamina to trudge on through revision after revision after revision -- rejection or ridicule, come what may. Faith gives you the self-awareness to know what you don't know. Faith gives you the power to see the flaws in your own writing and the desire to make it better. It gives you the will to persist and the constitution to stomach a bit of blood letting along the way. Traditional or Indie author, doesn't matter. We share the same deep-seated desire: to see our work in print and to have our work read. The paths might be different, but the struggle and the pain are the same, and those who persevere have one thing in common. Yup, you got it: Faith.

And for some reason, it just makes the writing better, and I should know: I was a victim of delusional enthusiasm in the beginning, but then I found my faith and with it, my voice. I stopped listening to the static and started listening to my own creative spirit. Once I shut my pie hole and started really listening, to the praise and to the criticism, I began to have faith in the word and the poetry I discovered within. Will I ever be as good as Proust? Probably not, but I have the faith to keep trying, and that is what makes me happy, as a writer and as an artist.

Others’ mileage will vary.

On a reader note: I do believe that readers can tell the difference between the two. When a writer has faith, well, the words and the stories just seem more honest to me, and the genre is irrelevant.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

The Art this week is Newton by William Blake circa 1795


Jim Murdoch said...

I had a religious upbringing and so ‘faith’ is a word I came to understand well. It is not the same as ‘belief’ although some think that they’re interchangeable. Faith has a basis – it is based on evidence – but people can believe what they want to. I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow morning because it has risen every morning for the past 51 years. I have witnessed its rising. I believe that when I die I will cease to exist and no part of me will move onto a different plain of existence.

I have faith in my writing. I have seen a grown man reduced to tears by the words I chose to write on a piece of paper. I have also been told by others how my words have affected them. You yourself have told me how my books have made you laugh. Knowing what I’m capable of, having proof, is a great encouragement. Some people never get that. Van Gogh only sold two paintings in his lifetime and Schubert only ever had one public performance of one of his works. How they kept going beats me.

I didn’t need to be published to realise that I could write. Knowing I could write justified publication. When Colin Will wrote about my poetry collection: “This is a fine collection by a thoughtful, subtle and perceptive writer, and it deserves to be widely read,” my honest reaction was, “Yes, that hits the nail on the head.” I knew that was the case before I sent him the book to review. This sounds a bit arrogant and I’m one of the least arrogant people you are ever likely to meet but I’m not ignorant of my abilities. So, I can write a bit. You should see the list of the things I can’t do.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

My philosophy has always been: Belief is just an opinion gone very wrong.

I think the biggest thing for me is that I have faith in my ability to learn and grow. I also have faith in my ability to accept my flaws, and I have faith in my decision making skills so I know whether those flaws are endearing or not. :)

I had one reader tell me that she loves my work not simply because of how I say things but more importantly what I say. I love when people "get" my work, as cryptic as the themes often are.

I won't ever have the screeching multitudes for a fan base, but that was and never will be a concern for me. I am not the greatest marketer in the world, but it was never about that to begin with.

BTW Jim, the review of Stranger than Fiction will be up on Tuesday.

Jim Murdoch said...

I look forward to it with great anticipation.

Maria Elizabeth Romana said...

I don't expect or even want fame and fortune from writing. And I mean that. I wouldn't expect my work to appeal to a mass audience, and I'd be disappointed if it did, because I'd know that most of them were missing the point :). What I do want is to connect with those people who "get me" and my work, and I have faith now that the Indie route is the only viable route to that connection.

Darcia Helle said...

Well said. I think most of us who write began our adventure with grand delusions. The endless hours of marketing were not even on my radar. However, as you said, we come to our senses quickly and the serious writers persevere.

I loved your ending note to readers. They are a smart bunch and the industry doesn't often give them enough credit.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

You said Darcia. If I hear one more time someone say: How will the consumer be able to sort through all the books available --with reference to Self-publishing flooding the market with crap -- I am going to scream. Consumers sort through everything now without issues. They aren't stupid.

And Maria, I so agree. I am like that too and get tired of people telling me that I am lying and I really want fame and fortune like every other traditionally published writer out there. It's just not true. If it were, I would market more. I too just like connecting on an intimate level with people who "get" my work.