Poetry doesn’t pay the rent, nor does bad timing or giving up

When I write, there’s a certain liberation to watching the words flow out.  Lately, that flow has been missing.  I don’t blame my professional non-writing life, because that puts food on the table.  Really, I’m in a bit of a rut.  I lack a clear vision, and maybe that’s just burnout.  After all, the last 365 days have been some of the most trying of my life, despite the many practical successes.  Still, poetry doesn’t pay the rent (unless you’re a New York Times bestseller) and I’m not the portrait of credit report nirvana, so nobody is bankrolling my lifestyle except me.

Many of us independent authors have the marketing brains of a housefly.

It’s easy to be bitter as a writer.  We feel like the world refuses to take us seriously and, as the independent book and author market is slowly fizzling, so are publishers.  This is understandable; a publisher is taking a risk in upfront investment of time, money and skill sets, laying out house money on someone who, more often than not, is often more turkey than peacock as far as marketability goes.  Some longtime independent publishing houses, which once had a “come one, come all” mentality, have become remarkably exclusive, mostly because of a very stark, dark and dirty truth; many of us independent authors have the marketing brains of a housefly.

To be fair, book publishing is painted by the media as a “fire and forget” sort of occupation, when the exact opposite is true.  Many of us are not willing to put sole to pavement, fearing a baring of our other soul will leave us in the position to have our hopes and dreams crushed.  It’s time for writers to face facts:  it’s easy to write the work when compared to editing, marketing and, finally, selling the work to a store, vendor or the reader themselves.  Failure is common due to a variety of factors, not least of which being time, money and sales skills.

Now it’s time for another dirty truth about book writing; while talent can get a writer a contract and even money upfront, talent alone is far from enough to sustain a property.  Most writers do not have the financial wherewithal to bankroll marketing campaigns, especially when their credit is shot.  Many more writers simply don’t know how to market and, more to the point, many of us just have bad luck or, worse, bad timing.

That doesn’t mean a writer should give up, but it is essential for self-honesty with a writer.  Dreams of whirlwind vacations and fat bank accounts are usually just that:  dreams.  Fun to think about, but not something one should focus on while perfecting their craft.  Such musings only serve to distract, frustrate and, ultimately, infuriate one to the point of wanting to quit.

Such was my life. I drifted from why I began writing.  No more.  It is truly about the work.

Here goes nothing.

One thought on “Poetry doesn’t pay the rent, nor does bad timing or giving up

  1. Pingback: When grief and writing collide | The Wandering Quill

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