Everybody talks about the “process.”
Finding, appreciating, and dealing with the “process.”
But what does that even mean?
It means, instead of being antsy and allowing yourself to fall for that first impulse to get your work out there as soon as possible, respect the fact that your story (or whatever you create) might not be ready to be mass produced yet. The key work is always YET. Because the work is almost never, absolutely never ready to be mass produced the second it is finished.
It’s not just about editing or presentation, but quality. It’s also about taking the time to step back and really think about what you just created. What it means for you and for others so you can examine it and understand it to know it better. Which makes it easier to defend and display it for others when the time comes.
That’s a HUMONGOUS thing for me.
When I first started out I knew nothing about the publishing industry. I knew very little about writing as a craft, art, and profession. I was thrust in so fast I got a deal too quick and it planted me into everything face-first.
That’s how I experience most of life, so it’s worked out. My first deal was small so not super detrimental. I can’t say I minded any of it because I’ve learned along the way, BUT for people who don’t have as thick of skin as me, those rejections hurt when you get them. Bad reviews will tear you apart. And having a shitty editor who pushes something through without properly going over it is the worst.
It takes a long time to recover from.
Because of all of that, I now feel that everything I write has to be pristine. I have to make up for past errors. Now, I would rather sit on a piece for an entire decade and have it come out with wide success than release it tomorrow and have only three people read it, and possibly less enjoy it.
I love the philosophy: If anyone’s reading your work, you’re a successful author.
It’s a great ideology.
And it’s important to hang onto that because:
But when seeking success, if wishing to make a living off of an industry, if it is going to be your livelihood, 3 readers isn’t gonna cut it.
We have to make our work universal. We have to make it speak to people who are nothing like ourselves, people who have absolutely no idea what we’re going through and somehow connect with them.
That is what “respecting the process” is all about.
The “process” isn’t just about how well you write, how you edit, and how you publish. The “process” is also all about sitting back to contemplate what your work means to you, what it means to others, and how it connects you to them.
That’s the entire point of writing.
Sure, there are the few assholes out there who might look at writing as a get-rich-quick scheme, which I laugh at. I mean, sure, every once in a while it is like winning the lottery. Some schmuck comes out with something ridiculous and gimmicky and they make a whole bunch of money in one go.
Then you never hear about them again.
Because it’s a passing fad.
But when really wanting to be an artist, to create something with longevity, something that at least gives somebody perspective or insight they never had before that might make the world a better place or make their world a better place, it takes more.
It takes a true process.
A well-rounded process.
A process that goes from the high of writing and/or creation to having to ground yourself and slam your feet back to earth and say: Okay I really love this but now I need to get real.
And getting real is something that was a major struggle for me. I love to let myself fly free without boundaries. I still do that. I will never give it up entirely. But slowing down matters.
There is a reason why time is the greatest teacher.
There is a reason why “with age comes knowledge and with experience comes wisdom.” (Or however the saying goes.)
Sure we could die tomorrow. But even if one doesn’t believe in a higher power (like me) there has to be some kind of trust in the future, fate, or yourself enough to realize that if you do die tomorrow publishing amateur writing on a crappy website really isn’t going to leave behind much of a legacy.
Savor the work.
Get it where it needs to be so when people read it, when they get the message you’re conveying, they can wholly appreciate it.
That is the main aspect of “the process” so many people in this industry preach but never really lay out.
Patience really is a writer’s most important virtue.