Friday, May 31, 2013

Write As If Your Life Depended on It

Image: "even snow melts" book cover
"even snow melts"at @Amazon
by Leo Walsh

I recently stumbled upon a short blog posting by marketing 2.0 guru Seth Godin called "As if your life depended on it" in my quest for information on  effectively market my recently published novel, even snow melts.

Ironically, Godin spoke to exactly what I was thinking about. Since there is a huge dichotomy between creating a work of art, and promoting it. Here is what Godin had to say (emphasis mine)...

"Art is best done all in, as if everything is on the line.  ... Marketing ..on the other hand, is ... a strategic game to be understood and tested."
Very true. Since when I do write fiction, I am completely focused on the creative act. Asking myself "What are my characters trying to say? Is this section, paragraph, sentence or word helping me convey my internal vision, the 'truth' as I see it and am trying to convey through my work?"

And then, I am faced with turning the work into a commodity. Which sort of bothers me. And then, I realize that the reason I wrote what I did was to communicate.

Godin continues, cautioning against being gratuitously commercial.
"The more you need to (must!) succeed at bringing the idea to market, the less success you'll encounter, because your fear will come through."
I think that we all sense that fear. Especially considering all of the free-time most writers I know devot to their craft. We toss our books to the world. And wonder if anyone will read them. Because, the dedication we show as authors aside, most of us want to either earn a living, or at least make some money from our ventures. And yet are often caught between the "sell out" vs. "starving artist" modes of thought.

Do we want to write just to be popular? Which means with calculation? Or do we just go all in? And write (or paint, sculpt, snap photos, etc) as if our lives depended on it?

I know that the best writers were artists. But many of them also had a flair for getting their works before people. Shakespeare wrote incredibly complex, poetic plays. And yet wrote for the popular theater. And I remember a story of young Jack Kerouac nearly camping in the offices of a perspective publisher who was skeptical of the free-flowing, disconnected but poetically exuberant prose of On the Road.

At the end of the day, I suppose, we've all got to live. And we have to live life to the full. So though it's a bit of a pain, why not create (live) hard, and market hard? You're only given one shot. And you may as well follow Neil Young's advice. "It's better to burn out, than it is to rust."

'Cuz rust never sleeps.

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