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Old 06-23-2012, 08:19 AM   #4
gmw
cacoethes scribendi
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There does seem something a little odd about writers, and new writers in particular (of which I am one). There is, I think, an inherent nervousness and self-doubt that sometimes comes out in strange ways. For example I find myself now often more conscious of what I am reading, and critical of it. Not that I can necessarily do any better, but I am now more aware of when things are going wrong, when the writing is not working. (When the book is good, when the writing is working, I am less conscious of the writing and so less critical - which is largely the point, a reader should not be conscious of the writing.)

The consciousness of the writing is necessary for a writer, it's part of what you need to be a writer, but when you lock a group of writers in a room the results can be a little disturbing. And when you let a writer loose on the subject of writing and getting published it can also be pretty ... "interesting". For this reason I tend to stay clear of writing forums (except this one, which is only a relatively recent thing for me).

What is odd is that the world, outside the locked room of the writers, still doesn't seem to care too much how the writer is published, or even if they are. The simple fact of choosing to write still carries an aura of mystery, as if anyone that chooses to write is given of some strange power.

But for writers that mystique has been stripped away. Yes there can be times when strange powers appear to be involved, but it's not like we understand it, we just use it. And having used it, we discover that that's not the end - suddenly there's this huge, seemingly insurmountable, hurdle between having written and getting published. It can be incredibly frustrating.

The reactions to this frustration sometimes come out as anger against the establishment (the big publishers), of which I have seen plenty of here (including some of my own ). But sometimes it is revealed as our own aura of mystery around publication: those that have the power to get published, versus those that do not; the age-old haves and the have-nots (some of which I feel myself).

Because self-publication is so easy, and because so many choose to use self-publishing to avoid the work of refinement that is part of more traditional publishing, it is easy for anyone, but writers in particular (who know how much work really is involved), to sneer and look down on those that choose that path - assuming that anyone that chooses to self-publish has only done it to avoid the work. Such assumptions don't always apply: not for those that take their work seriously; those that understand that publishing is a lot more than printing words on paper pages; those that treat self-publishing as a real publishing process, not just a file transfer.

While that aura of mystique surrounds traditional publishing, some will inevitably use it as a measure of an author's success. It's not a good measure, it's not even a valid measure, certainly not anymore, but it's largely our own fault. It's part of what we are.
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