…a blog post appearing in the Medium.com website from the pen of Author Lindsay Edmunds… great piece…
‘This is a blog for those among us who do not earn a full-time living from our writing.
We lack neither ambition, passion, nor the capacity for hard work. An unambitious person would never do something as difficult as writing. We are not hobbyists. A hobby is cross-stitch or reading biographies of movie stars or collecting bluegrass recordings. Writing and publishing are work.
An example of a full-time professional: Erle Stanley Gardner, the author of the Perry Mason mysteries. He was a self-described “fiction factory.” He regularly wrote more than a million words a year before computers. By the end of his career, he had sold more than 300,000,000 books.
I could write a million words a year, but I would not sell 300,000,000 books as a result. This is something I know about myself. Writers able and willing to do that have particular talents, and believe me, they are talented.
Some of us operate the literary equivalent of little coffee shops; some operate Starbucks-like empires. It is possible to feel successful doing either.
Whether you gather a small, enthusiastic tribe or a large, enthusiastic tribe depends on the kind of stories you tell, how well you tell them, how fast you tell them, how many hours you are willing to put into improving your craft and your industry knowledge, whether you enjoy marketing, and that alchemical ingredient—luck.
When Emily Dickinson wrote, “If fame belonged to me, I could not escape her / If she did not, the longest day would pass me on the chase,” I think she was referring to the alchemy of luck—the right words in the right way at the right time. She could not have been referring to either talent or hard work, for she had a superabundance of the first and did plenty of the second.
(Emily Dickinson spent her life trying to escape fame, but as it turned out, she couldn’t.)
New Races, New Prizes
In 2011, I wrote a blog called “What Indie Publishing Is Like: I’m a Fool.”
The reference is to a 38-minute film called I’m a Fool. This film, made in 1976 as part of the PBS American Short Story Collection, dramatizes a short story by Sherwood Anderson.
I’m a Fool is about a young man named Andy who leaves home to travel through rural Ohio during the summer of 1919 with two harness-racing horses, a sulky, and a cart. At the county fairs, the horses sometimes win and sometimes don’t. It is the greatest summer of Andy’s life.
Almost in passing, it is a cautionary tale. When Andy meets Lucy, the girl of his dreams, he suddenly feels like a failure. He is not rich! He is not powerful! Who is he, anyway?
Guided by his feelings of inferiority, Andy tries to impress Lucy by pretending to be his wealthy boss. That is how he loses her.
This is a good film for writers. Using the I’m a Fool metaphor, we walk the back roads with our good horses, and win some races. With persistence, work, faith, and luck, we might win bigger purses someday and turn pro, but what keeps us walking is that this is the life for us. We are fortunate beyond words that we can have it even part-time.
In the world of indie publishing, it is high summer. There has never been a better time to be a storyteller.
Voices You Hear in a Crowd
A common quality among indie writers is authenticity. (Why not be authentic? No one is stopping you.) The result is strong individual voices. In a crowd you hear them.
Self-published writers whose work I enjoy include Mary Pat Hyland, Christa Polkinhorn, Susan Eisenberg, Kate Laity (not technically indie but indie in spirit), Gloria Bowman, Seumas Gallacher, and Hugh Howey (of course).’