What Path Should be Taken?
As a budding author myself, I’m always looking for new ways to further learn my craft of becoming a great fiction writer. At this point of my journey I’ve decided self-publishing is the route for me. Depending on whom you ask, some will say I’m on the road to career nirvana and others will say I’m on the path to certain literary ruin.
The cup half-full types would state that I have taken the road of self-enlightenment, feeling my way over the peaks and valleys of writing. They would speak of my bravery in finding my own way and for that alone I will find a way to be successful.
On the other hand, the types not so enthusiastic about the nontraditional road taken would beg to differ. They would state that many writers are clogging the market with horrible novels that never should’ve seen the light of day. Just like any other career, such as being a doctor or architect, the craft needs to be learned and approved by others of the trade before being shared with an audience. The real question is, which of the two parties holds the truth?
Just like them, whoever they are, I can only share my opinion and my truth as I see it. I believe that both parties are right. Either way you choose to get your writing out in front of people, the approval of the masses is eventually needed to garner success in the traditional sense. However the path towards that end is not clear, and it's different for everyone.
As it has been said before, “necessity is the mother of invention” and clearly there are many that feel the need to get their stories heard. If there wasn’t, self-publishing would have never existed in the first place. However every story told isn’t gold, or even good for that matter. Still if even one out of hundred self-published stories touches the heart of one out of hundred people, the story was worth being told in my eyes.
Many will still scream from the rooftops that most authors won’t succeed. Why, you might ask? Simply because they’re not good enough. That is a valid point. Sometimes we just can’t cut the mustard. Still I think we will never know until we try. And if you are anything like me, the story has to be told and put into the universe to do with it as it pleases.
What is good enough anyway? Most of us, in whatever career we start, will never begin being “good enough”, including doctors and architects. I’m not stating we should let professionals in critical positions just wing it. The sheer horror of botched open heart surgeries and tumbling skyscrapers are enough to make anyone shudder.
But if the story bug should hit one of these professionals, I would love to hear what they have conjured during their journey of becoming. Okay, maybe not all of their stories, but there have to be a couple of them that have something interesting to say. Why should we miss out on it because they didn’t choose writing as their major in college?
There may have been some people that changed their tune and agree that these stories need telling, but still not before the proper training of the art of writing, right? Conversely, what beautiful raw layers would we possibly miss out on if that method was always used in artistry? Sometimes we are able to witness the artist's growth through their early mistakes, learn from them even. In the realization of our human constraints, we see how passion finds the room to build, touching all that comes in contact with it.
As I embrace my tangent, the Sistine Chapel comes to mind. Michelangelo is a known master sculptor, painter, architect, and poet. I know, I’ve decided to use one of our celebrated geniuses to make a point, but hear me out.
Most historians agree that if we were able to ask Michelangelo what he saw himself as; he would claim to be a sculptor. He loathed painting the Sistine Chapel. Previous to the ceiling frescoes, the only painting he'd done was during his brief stint as a pupil in Ghirlandaio's workshop. Needless to say he wasn’t a “trained painter”. As a matter of fact, his novice attempts, rapid growth and ability all show through the ceiling frescoes that took over four years of his life to finish.
I’ve been lucky enough to have witnessed his work for myself and the historian that guided me through the Vatican museum shared with my party before we entered (we weren’t supposed to talk while we’re in the chapel proper) that we would be able to see his perspective for the paintings inside each fresco was off at first as he put to many figures and details into one scene. While his talent grew, he naturally fixed his folly through trial and error and helpful hints from his painter friends. His last fresco, The last Judgment, showed his full capability and beautifully hidden message of all the strife his painting growth had caused. I know I’m not alone in saying that his paintings, even with their flaws, were all part of the moving experience of viewing his complete masterpiece. However if it were up to Michelangelo he would’ve never had done the ceiling.
Click on the picture to take a virtual walk around the Sistine Chapel!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though self-publishing is a messy bundle of the good, the bad and horrendously ugly at times, beauty can be found in the beginning, middle and end from the most unlikely sources. So if you’re an aspiring writer, don’t quit your day job just yet, but never quit your passion either. Find room for both because your love of your craft is worth it! Also always find a way to in better yourself through learning more about what you love. Take the knowledge from others that you believe you need and be ready to hear how wrong everything you’re doing is. And if you go the traditional way of finding an agent and publisher first, be ready for lots of rejection from that end as well. Any road you choose many times you will question and doubt your own abilities, but that’s part of the price of fully living out your dreams. Whatever road is taken to live your passion isn’t for the faint of heart; but how boring would life be if it were? Here’s to a productive day for all!