the things people sell on etsy man

Working on my million

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about HBBO’s post from earlier about writing fan fiction vs. writing fiction for publication, or even just making a living off of a creative endeavor period vs. just keeping it as a hobby. There were so many interesting replies from both sides of the aisle. People who had found it rewarding and people who had found it killed their joy.

The comments that most resonated were the ones which spoke about the relentless need to self-promote when you are trying to sell a product to other people. I hate this. When I started my Etsy shop selling baby clothes the need to put myself out there was quickly exhausting and made me uncomfortable. I even hate posting on Tumblr when I’ve written something new. I find it pretty draining and generally unsatisfying. So I think the thing that registered with me the most was when she said this:

But man, I have learned the hard way that being in that emotional space, where I’m very invested in popularity metrics, makes me totally, totally miserable. Even when my expectations are met or exceeded, I find that just the investment itself drains my creative energy and saps my sense of self-direction, and I end up less able to create, and less happy with what I do create. Over the past decade I’ve been working on myself, and my own mental/emotional processes, so that I can try to maximize the life-sustaining parts of art-making while minimizing my investment in economics-style metrics of success. 

I struggle with this a lot. Because on the one hand, like HBBO says, the feedback and the comments and the positive reinforcement are a huge part of why I love this community. It makes writing an interactive sport. It’s validating. I’ve met so many wonderful people through it. But keeping expectations low is key to my enjoyment of posting. My little village who reads what I write and comments and kudos are everything to me. Those are the friendships I want to nourish.

It would be a lie to say that I don’t feel disappointed when a fic isn’t received the way I hoped. A big fear that’s blocking me from writing the epilogue to GS? Is that it won’t be as good because writing in BBC’s Sherlock voice is really hard for me. Reading HBBO’s post helped me realize that. And a part of that fear is that people won’t like it as much. We all hope people will like what we write, otherwise we wouldn’t post it.

But at the end of the day I need to learn to keep the two separate. I write because I must. I write because it makes me happy. I write because it’s challenging. I write because I want to become a better writer. And along the way I’m gonna write things that aren’t popular, but as far as I see it you only fail if you give up. So I’ll keep trying.

Where’s that quote that says it takes a million words written before you start finding your voice and getting good? Well, I’m working on my million.