Writers should write!

I just read this great article by Hugh Howie over on Huffington Post. In it he talks about his advocacy for writing, and self publishing that writing. He said:
“We don’t rail against the proliferation of YouTube videos from aspiring filmmakers or DeviantArt accounts from future designers. We celebrate the act of bettering our craft by producing early works.”

This got me thinking about my own journey as an artist and writer, and the little encouragements along the way.

Drawing was easy. I started with an Elfwood account, that actually still exists. I got a DeviantArt account later, and still update it now and then. People like and comment on my art still. I sold some paintings, wrote some tutorials for wetcanvas.com, and could have continued on a path to an artists career. Not an amazing one, but a nice one.

But as much as I love art, I couldn’t make it my career. I’m good, I’m not amazing, and I don’t have the patience to practice and study to become amazing. I can’t even decide what style I like to do, so there is nothing consistent in any of it.

But writing…

I posted my first chapters/short stories to Elfwood. That was my first taste of reader feedback. Again, some of it still exists, and I don’t plan to take it down.

Then I switched to writing.com. An interesting platform, with some nice features. I had a few readers, but I couldn’t pay for a subscription so the limit of five stories up wasn’t enough. I did delete my account there.

I had my own websites. Several, in fact. Getting people to go to your website is a pain in the ass. I loved building them, but then I’d take them down a few months later.

The first time I actually got money for something I wrote was when I joined redpaper.com. It was the first micro-transaction community, and I really loved it. I won a contest and made ten bucks there once. Sold some comics, some desktop pictures, and a few articles and stories. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was incredible to actually get money, even less then a dollar, for the things I wrote.

This was a form of self publishing, and I didn’t even realize it at the time. It encouraged me to produce more things all the time. I don’t care that I got so little… it was mine! I earned it. It felt amazing.

Later, I switched to magazines… I was suppose to earn $20 per article/story they published. It didn’t work that way. I ended up getting nothing, which cut my confidence in publishing a lot. The fact that they didn’t see fit to pay me, even though I had a signed contract saying they would, contributed to my writers block. It made it a little easier to walk away when my life got so stressed out.

Youtube, DeviantArt, and similar venues… they offer more then just places to show your work. They aren’t just brag galleries, and show pieces. They offer the chance to actually make money doing something you love. Authors should have that same opportunity.

It might not be a lot of money sometimes, but does it really matter? It’s about encouraging an artist of any kind to get better at their craft. And if I can earn enough from writing to go to Starbucks once in a while, then that’s encouraging. Because it makes me believe some day I might make more. Maybe even enough to do this full time.

And that’s worth it.


4 thoughts on “Writers should write!

  1. This is exactly how I’ve been looking at arguments about self-publishing. Why shouldn’t we have a chance to share our work, which is art just as much as a sketch or an independent film is? Sure, some self-published work is probably on-par with the worst of what’s on YouTube, but so what? Some of it is amazing.

    I’ve been questioning whether I should even bother publishing at all, knowing how tiny the odds of real success are, but you’re absolutely right. Even small successes are worth it when we’re doing what we love and sharing it with the world. This is a very encouraging post.

    (Just found this through a WordPress search. Nice to meet you!)

    • Nothing wrong with trying. I did it for a while. But, for me, there was more satisfaction in self publishing. I could do it whenever I wanted. I had all the control over covers, content, and style. And I could put it up now, today, instead of waiting months or years for a publisher to get to it.

      The hybrid has become the “best possible solution” for many people. Try to traditionally publish some. Self publish others. Collect a reader base to make you more interesting to publishers.

      I might try publishing some short stories in magazines later… But I don’t know if I will be tempted to go with a traditional book publisher any time soon. Not without a contract that is in my favor, which isn’t likely at the moment.

      (Glad you found me, nice to meet you to.)

  2. I just did a podcast interview where this subject came up (I’m mid an article about it). People tend to measure success in “Hugh Howey overnight millions” or “failure,” with no room in between. The same people that define it that way are the people who are usually stuck in the rat race or in the more traditional “business” world. They’re not artists first and foremost, like we are.

    For us, getting our work out there in the world, read and seen by other people is success in itself. I’m doing that and managing to make a living, for now. It’s a meager living, but it’s a living. And if anyone were to call me a “failed” artist or even a “struggling” artist I’d have a strong urge to knock their teeth out. How is writing every day a struggle?

    Your stuff is great, Crissy, and you know you don’t need me to tell you that—your friends, family and readers tell you the same thing. I can’t even be angry at haters any more; I’ve finally realized that they just judge the world on a completely different scale than we do.

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