I know a number of writers, me included, who find the idea of having to market one’s self or one’s work thoroughly depressing, and for the most part, totally ineffective. Amazon, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads Giveaways, Blog Tours (thankfully I’ve never done one of those) and who are we talking to? Mostly we are talking to ourselves. Or I suspect to other writer’s in similar postions.
If we’re not published by the mainstream it’s hard to get our work out there and hard to find readers. (Although when we do, on that rare occasion, find readers or reviewers who offer their unsolicited praise this is as a gift from heaven!)
We feel we’ve failed because we’re not the name on everyone’s lips and we haven’t made the shortlist for a big prize. We allow ourselves to be judged by a publishing world that has little intellectual, or material, investment in writers. We doubt ourselves. And worst of all we forget that the joy is, and must always be, in the work itself.
Amit Chaudhuri in his Guardian article, Why The Booker Prize is Bad For Writers argues – ‘The meaning of a writer’s work must be created, and argued for, by writers themselves, and not by some extraneous source of endorsement…Virginia Woolf didn’t wake up in the morning and think, “I wonder if Mrs Dalloway will be longlisted for the Booker?”’ (I love this reference to Virginia Woolf. It’s going up on my wall!)
I read Chaudhuri’s article this morning at coffee time. I read it with great relish and I recommend it. We need writers like Chaudhuri to remind us what it’s all about, and to give us permission to carry on. Permission to reclaim ourselves and our work.
And in case you’re in need of further reminding and consoling as to the true work of the writer here is an unmissable piece by Mary Oliver, on – The Artist’s Task