I dip in and out of the idea of getting published one day – by which I mean publication in a magazine or online periodical, or by a publishing house (as opposed to self-publishing ventures). It’s a bit of a block for me. Most of the content I write goes to Comfort for the Apocalypse and I have a hard time getting excited about writing content that is tailored or fits a particular demographic. At the same time it feels like publication is legitimizing, and elevates writing from being seen as a “hobby” to something else.
I am germinating a new idea for a possible book project which has brought this question to the fore again. Really, it’s the question of why I write at all. Is it to get published/be legitimized? Or is writing a way of figuring out what I think and connecting with others via those communicated thoughts?
If you read most online advice articles about writing a non-fiction book, the main recommendation is to write a powerful book proposal and get it in front of publishers. They say maybe you should write a chapter or two of the book, but the main thrust of the advice is to sell it as an idea first before investing too much time in the writing of it. This suggests of course, that one has a fully-formed idea of what they want to write before they do it, which is the exact opposite of me. I come up with a general idea and then write it out into an incoherent first draft, which I then edit it several times, asking myself a thousand questions about whether each word choice is what I really want to say, and then ending with a piece that is radically different than what I thought it would be. The idea of carefully writing a book proposal and then sticking to it is a bit unfathomable to me. Not to mention the idea of having to sell myself or my ideas to others.
Which comes back to the fact that writing, for me, is a way of figuring out what I think and then connecting with others, even if “others” is only a very small newsletter and blog readership. My day job means that I don’t have to monetize writing, which is probably a good thing because marketing me isn’t my strong suit. Perhaps writing isn’t my strong suit either, but it requires less effort (and that’s saying a lot because writing is no walk in the park).
This blog is my most personal place, and the place where I worry the least about my output. In keeping with that, and the fact I work my ideas out as I wrote, I’ve decided I’m going to start posting here more meaningfully again in order to experiment with some ideas and writing approaches (in addition to my Friday week-in-review blog posts which work for me on a different level).
When I first started Red-Cedar.ca 18 years ago, the whole purpose of it was to document the apocalyptic times we were living in then (hence the tag line “more apocalypse, less angst”), but it has been a place to document all sorts of other thoughts, life changes, and recipes as well. When we first moved to Gabriola, I tried a brief rebrand with a softer tag-line and more textile-focused content, which felt totally inauthentic to me and so I switched back to whatever it is that Red-Cedar.ca projects, and added CfA to the mix of outputs. Whether I post her regularly or don’t, Red-cedar.ca is the closest thing I have to a diary of the last eighteen years of my life and so it makes sense that as I continue to shape and build my writing (and music), I would do more of that here.
I love to read your posts and occasionally share them with my friends and family, many of whom appreciate good writing.
I also struggle with the questions around seeking publication, for all the reasons you’ve articulated. I retired recently so it feels a little odd to be starting a writing career at this stage of my life but I feel as though I’d like to share my ideas with a wider audience.
This is a roundabout way of saying please keep writing, your audience might be small but I’m sure they are discerning!
Thanks so much! I’ve added your blog to my feedly feed so I can follow your writing exploits. I figure if something I say connects with just one other person, it was probably worth saying regardless of whether it gets an official seal of approval…. and you just proved my point 🙂
Thanks for following my blog, I feel like I’m gradually developing a circle of like-minded friends (many of whom are writers). A few years ago (five to be exact), I celebrated my 60th birthday and when I looked around at my friends I realised that they all worked in human services in various roles, and they were all book lovers! It was a lovely moment.