write for yourself
…“it is better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” _Cyril Connolly
Yesterday at lunch time we opened our home to entertain strangers. Again!
As so often happens, both of our guests are educators and so have lots in common with D and so have lots to talk about. Again, as inevitably happens, the conversation worked its way around to “So, Ellen? What is it that you do?” At that point, depending upon my frame of mind, I usually just say, “Nothing really.” Whereupon, D chimes in with a list of things that occupy my time and interests. Then the subject of “why my books aren’t being published?” comes up.
I hate that conversation with a passion.
My books aren’t in the hands of a publisher because I am a writer—not a salesman, not an agent—and not remotely interested in becoming either. Years ago, when writing first appeared on my horizon, my mindset was if I wasn’t a published author, I was a failure. Period. After collecting a box of rejection letters from both Christian and secular agents and publishing houses, I accepted my failure and chose instead to write for the love of writing. Then a friend, whose father wrote an autobiography, self-published. He told D how wonderful it was to have the work in hardcover, available for sale in case anyone should happen to want to buy it. (I understand several family members did in fact buy the book.)
“Wow! Irish, maybe you could do that!:
“Nope. Not remotely interested in doing that either.”
“Have no need to stroke my ego by paying someone pots full of dollars just so I can say I have a hardcover copy of my work on hand.”
Also hate that conversation…knowing full well that hate is a strong word. Let me just say: I feel strongly about rejection; I feel strongly about feeling condemned because there’s no manuscript on the New York Times Best Seller List and I feel strongly about throwing a pot full of dollars at my ego just so I won’t have to participate in the aforesaid conversation. I see no benefit in pressuring friends and family into purchasing a book they don’t want and will never read, just so I can say, “Hey, I’m published and somebody bought my book.”
This subject always leaves me a little cranky and feeling a little inadequate. Still…I continue to write because I love doing it. To quote Lucille Ball:
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done, than the things I haven’t done.”
So…what about the strangers? Well, they really don’t care one way or the other. Today they’ve gone on with their lives and their judgments concerning what e does or does not do simply do not matter. So there.