I had a friend ask me that question a while ago. His actual words were, “Why the fuck should I ever try to get published? Shouldn’t I wait ’til the dust settles?”
My first reaction was to answer back with a quippy little remark about the dust, saying, “What dust? Do we need to vacuum?” But I thought that it would be just another joke that wasn’t really a joke, because jokes are supposed to be funny.
My second reaction was the one that I stuck with. I simply said, “Why not?”
Publishing may be effed up right now (read any number of articles, here, here, or here), but it seems to me to be the best time to try to get a foot in the door. I know, I know, I’m sure that there are some copyright lawyers out there saying, “You idiot! You should wait till the dust settles (again with the dust), so you don’t get screwed out of some new tech or some aspect of contractual law that will take away your money.” (or something a little less wordy)
But hear me out. Sometimes, a little push in one direction can open up the opportunities in other directions. If someone is actively trying their best to get published, won’t they try to keep writing, making their craft that much better? Won’t they listen to songs that enrich their creativity as they start to identify themselves as a writer? Won’t writing become the identity to which they create a sense of self worth?
One could only hope. I hope to help writers become Writers, most of the time through a concerted effort of constructive feedback and encouragement. I have tried to give artists short stories, and I’ve given musicians stories, too, hoping that there might be something that inspires them to practice their craft. Sometimes, the artist is an artist, sometimes the artist is something else, identifying themself as any number of different things (cook, salesman, marketer, designer). Who knows, maybe someday they’ll define themself as an artist who cooks, sells, markets or designs… Then that proper perspective kicks in and they start to create again. Create as an artist.
How do you decide what makes you You? Is it the title that you give yourself, or the things that you do? Hopefully you won’t let a bunch of money-grubbing corporate tools tell you when and where you can become what you want to become.