It’s tough being a writer. It always has been.
In school, we’ve studied the great masters: Hemingway, Dickens, Twain, Melville, Hawthorne, the Russians giants (so much darkness and so much pain), Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front; still the best war novel ever written)–there’s just so many to list! But how many writers competed with them and failed? How many dared to put their hearts and souls out there and were laughed at, or ignored, or just failed to get anywhere?
And yet, even when you’re forgotten, if your a professional, you keep on trying. You have to, what other choice do you have? You have to have hope. Hope is what drives farmers–maybe next year I’ll have a better crop–maybe then I’ll make ends meet–maybe I’ll be able to leave something of value to family–maybe my family will love farming as much I do. Hope is also what drivers us writers. We write a novel, or a story or poem, or a blog, and nobody reads it. We make no money from it. So we write on and hope–maybe someone will read my next piece–maybe I’ll make a little money–maybe I’ll gain some recognition–if I just work harder and make it better, maybe, maybe, maybe someone will be moved by it, sit up and take recognition of me, give me a little glory.
Blogging, social media sites, twitter, et cetera, are all hope and glory. It’s not just about staying connected, its about recognition. So is modern-day publishing, especially electronic publishing. All those writers through all those years, hoping and hoping for a little glory, unable to break into mainstream publishing and turning to self-publishing, spending their often hard-earned dollars on printing books, all those people who had to “buy” from a self-publishing printer a thousand or five thousand or ten thousand copies of their book only to have most of them rot in a garage or a shed or a storage unit, selling just as many copies as the average person has fingers on one or two hands, all those books going into garbage dumps or recycling bins! All those unfulfilled dreams, all the vanquished hopes, all that sorrow and regret and sadness.
You can be anything or anyone you want to be in the United States, but there’s not room for everybody. Every success story has ten thousand failures behind it.
Yet, now electronic publishing allows you more hope. It allows you a little bit of glory, a micro bit of success. You make a few dollars but lose practically nothing.
Epublishing is kind of like those old magazines in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Magazines and newspapers back then published short stories and poems to entertain their readers. Many a song writer, a poet, a writer got their start from some of those publishers who no longer exist or, if they still do, nor longer take fictional and poetry submissions. Epublishing gives us a chance to be noticed. Yet the success stories are few and far between, just as they are in paper publishing.
Almost all writers suffer doubt. Some handle it with alcohol and some with drugs. And a few more handle that depressing doubt with both drugs and alcohol. I handle it with chocolate.
We all want to make a difference. We want people to notice us, value us. We want to stand up there with the giants and gods, even if we’re at their heels. But you try and try and try and wonder if it’s ever going to happen.
Hope is all you have. Glory is fleeting. So said each slave who followed each Roman general who rode his chariot in glory into Rome, at the head of his legions. The Romans wanted their generals and leaders to know humility. It didn’t always work out. Too bad we don’t have the same system today. Let a homeless man or a mother in poverty follow our presidents and congressional leaders, and political candidates around, chanting, “All glory is fleeting!”
So what can you do? You keep trying, you keep farming, you write on, and you hope, you pray, you meditate, and you wonder “will it be worth it?”