In the second instalment of her guest post Write or Wrong? Jade Varden discusses ‘non-traditional’ publishing routes.
(Read Write or Wrong? Part I here)
These days, writers don’t need to impress the literary agents or the publishing houses — they simply need to complete their work and get to feeling ambitious. The world of self-publishing has been blasted wide open by the Internet, providing opportunities that never existed before. But that doesn’t mean that the possibility of rejection no longer exists.
In fact, some writers are feeling it more acutely than ever. Publishing houses and literary agents often follow certain formulas. They look for specific ingredients in the books they accept and the authors they choose to favor. Books and writers that don’t meet this criteria end up feeling the sharp sting of rejection, which is all the more painful when the writer knows deep within themselves that their work is good.
Until they self-publish it…and the readers seem to hate it, too. Some who set out to prove the publishers wrong find themselves facing the pain of low readership, mean-spirited reviews and other agonizing experiences. No matter how you publish, when you publish you leave yourself vulnerable to ridicule and derision from readers. This is only tempered by the fact that you are also open to love and praise. But for some writers, even this possibility isn’t enough to assuage the pain — or even to relieve the potential for pain.
Some of the world’s greatest writers never intentionally shared their work with it. Many people are required to study the poet Emily Dickinson in school, and more than one fantastic college paper has delved deeply into her unique, somber works. But she never intended for any of us to see that poetry. Emily was a shut-in who rarely left her home, choosing instead to spend her days scribbling about the sights she saw from her window and the amazing thoughts that rolled around in her head. She asked that, upon her death, all her poetry be burned by her sisters. They had it published instead. One can only assume the same fear that kept Emily hidden away her whole life made her hide her wonderful words away as well.
So, to sum it up, I have very little in common with any bestselling writer I’ve ever studied. Like many writers, I’ve felt the sharp sting of rejection from publishers and from readers. I’ve struggled to get down one sentence and somehow magically sped though certain chapters. I’ve cried at rejection slips, and I’ve ignored rejection slips. I’ve felt pain and elation thanks to my writing efforts. And, like Emily Dickinson, I’ve even flirted with the fantasy of simply locking myself into a room so I can simply write in peace and try to ignore what the world thinks of it.
So I guess the question is, why the heck am I still writing? In one blog post alone I’ve expressed bitterness and anger, resentment and confusion — and I found a way to be somewhat unflattering to two popular American writers. But that’s the thing about writing: it’s a roller coaster, and it’s filled with emotion. Part of putting emotion on the page is in feeling it yourself.
And besides that, there’s only one alternative: not writing at all. What kind of fate is that for any writer? It hurts to be rejected by anyone, it’s scary to put yourself out there for everyone and it’s incredibly difficult to write an entire book from beginning to end. But isn’t all of that infinitely preferable to being haunted by the words not written?
Want to know more about Jade Varden and her writing?