The Business of Writing

If I dreamt of being an actress, I’d be going about the business of fame by hanging around soda shop counters and hoping to be discovered for just sitting and sipping. I’m taking the same approach to my writing success. Maybe if I just send words into the abyss someone will say, “can I publish a book for you?” and that will be that. That has happened to successful writers, like David Sedaris, who did a reading somewhere and was approached by a publisher who asked if he’d written a book they could publish. Luckily, he had.

In the age of the internet it’s both harder and less hard to be successful. On the one hand, you can submit to anywhere online with the push of a button if you’re willing to pay a submission fee. On the other hand, everyone in the world is pushing that same button and publications are being flooded with good writing. I don’t understand the internet or search engines and key words and everything else I’m supposed to figure out to increase traffic to my blog or get my writing seen by more people. I have several social media accounts but it’s really hard to increase followers in a genuine way without feeling like human clickbait. It doesn’t help that I also have a fear of trolls.

I write almost every day now. A lot gets deleted, but it’s all good practice. I’ve written two articles for other websites and both were accepted, one a few weeks ago and one that will be posted this week. That’s HUGE for me, even though neither site is massive and I’m not guaranteed any more traffic to my blog as a result of the article. Still, I don’t take for granted praise from anyone I’m not related to. I know most of my readers here are family or close friends of family, and while your support is invaluable, there is something to be said for compliments from a stranger.

Working outside the home is certainly stressful and challenging, depending on your job, but in a healthy work environment there are accolades, no matter how small. Thank you or good work today are things a stay at home mom doesn’t hear from people outside her house. Even if your boss is a jerk and never gives you compliments on your work, you are getting paid, which is confirmation of work well done in itself. You really want your husband and family to say they love your writing, but there’s always the underlying feeling that they aren’t allowed to say otherwise, so maybe their praise isn’t totally representative of the world at large. It’s the same with my cooking — if my husband were to admit the chicken was a little on the dry side tonight, I might get mad and refuse to cook the rest of the week, so I have to take his assertion that I’ve made the best chicken of my career every time I roast one with several grains of flaky Maldon salt.

I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, so I don’t need the entire world to tell me I’m an acceptable writer, but in my niches it’s truly satisfying to get good feedback from people who don’t know me at all. For example, both articles I’ve had accepted are about minimalism, a topic on which I’ve written just a few blogs this year but the websites I submitted to are well established resources for long-time followers of the practice.

The article that’s coming out this week is more personal, and a bit of a departure for the site, which makes the good feedback all the more satisfying. I wrote about the lofty goals of minimalists, and how people with challenges in their lives can feel excluded from the practice because they can’t possibly reach every milestone or check off every goal. Lots of minimalists are vegans or vegetarians, and someone with a chronic intestinal illness might read that and think they don’t belong. Or a patient with psoriatic arthritis might watch Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix and think, “I cannot possibly fold all my clothes that way, it would be too painful.”

Just like any goal, incremental progress is key. You don’t have to be a trophy minimalist to see the benefits of an intentional life. Perhaps the same is true of writing: making progress every day is the best I can do right now with the kids at home doing virtual school. All writing is good practice, from writing Amazon reviews to starting my first work of fiction this month. Writing essays and articles has been a challenge with so many interruptions, but writing fiction is near impossible since I’m brand new to the genre and have to really use every piece of my tired brain to render a world that’s different from the one I exist in now.

I’m thrilled that the article I wrote about minimalism and chronic illness is coming out this week, and the woman who runs the site has been so generous with her response to my work. I hope you’ll all read it.

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