After taking two years off to focus on my writing, I recently returned to the business world that earns me more money in a day than in a whole year as an author.
Was this caving in? Selling out? Giving up? It was all of the above, and the achievement of wisdom that the business of writing and the art of writing are two different pursuits. My business logic tells me that one avoids entering markets as a seller when supply exceeds demand, and this is the case in the fiction market. And yet, we eternal hopefuls enter it in hordes every year because we all want to tell our story. The only hope of garnering attention in this supply•heavy market is through the power of endorsement. So should a writer wine and dine every agent and publisher, as well as Oprah, as part of his next phase to being commercially successful, apart from writing his break•out novel? Probably—for those so inclined.
For me, it has been a wake•up call to return to my art of writing and focusing on developing that aspect of this gift (or curse) that is foisted upon some of us. There are no limitations to developing the art: it has a linear growth trajectory and contracts or extends based on how much time and effort you put into it. And yet the business of writing today is faced with so many variables, many outside the control of the writer: e•books, Google, publishers going bankrupt, the blockbuster phenomenon, self•publishing, occasional social networking jackpots—where do you place your bet?
A wise teacher once told me to worry about the things that only I could control and leave the rest to God (or the Devil). And so it is with the writing. I will return to the craft and find reward and enrichment for my soul in that endeavour. As for the selling of books, you can’t miss what you never had, so the idyllic life of the writer living in exotic lands and jettisoning the occasional manuscript upon a hungry agent, who then turns it around into mega bucks and movie deals—that will have to remain a dream – for now!