Are You Published?

The simple answer is no. When I’m asked this question I wonder what the person knows about the art and process of storytelling. As with any type of excellence in art, overnight success is not the norm. Could I be published? I’m 100% certain. It’s easy nowadays via Vanity press or ePublishing. Nothing stands in the way. So being published is not necessarily a sign of success or quality. It’s basically like a General Admission ticket. Anyone can get in. Almost like buying a degree. There’s a universe of white noise out there now.

I began writing the saga Creed of Kings, which has sprawled into a 300,000 word epic, right before the eBook revolution started to crank up. I made a decision to never publish through Vanity press. Why? Because if I ended up self-publishing it meant—not in all cases of course—that I sucked. Sorry for the technical language.  Vanity means what it means. Gratifying myself is not my aim, which is to rock the reader’s world. Vanity costs dearly and you end up with a bunch of books in your garage. My goal is for Creed of Kings to be published traditionally, in hardcover, on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and others. on black Friday. Even though I’ve tweaked it a bit due to the eBook revolution, the spirit of the goal has not changed, but that does not matter either.

What matters most is quality. One has to spin a yarn better than the people in one’s creative writing class do. College football is planet away from high school football, and pro football is a galaxy from college. You must never rest when it comes to creating the best characters, plot points, dialogue, set up, mood, structure etc. I must see myself joining the league of David Gemmell , George R. R. Martin, Terry Goodkind , Steven Pressfield  now, not someday. What I create must stand the light of day with no prequalification. I have to write at that level of quality. I have to stretch myself, sacrifice.

I’m not new to writing. I’ve always had the bug. I had an active blog life that started in 2004 on Xanga . Before that, I was a regular contributor to a message board started by the rock band Creed—where I relearned the importance of spelling! I’ve written a oodles of terrible poems and kept angst ridden journals. Before that, I wrote a short story in college for a humanities project. The professor thought I should try to publish it. I did not think it was good enough. It was not about self-image, it was about objectivity.

People have told me all my life that I have the gift. It’s rarely flying in formation though. Life’s storms and obligations must be handled and I have discovered it takes a lot of effort for me to keep that flame lit. Furthermore, I am human and I suffer those outrageous idiocies of us artsy fartsy types, such as bored easily, moodiness, brooding, attention whore, borderline ADD, impatience, and perfectionism.

I feel strongly that my day is coming. The agonizing work has come up front. At the start it would have been arrogant to just whip out a manuscript, send it in, and wait for the book tour to begin. I never believed that. Therefore, I’ve clawed through 2 million raw words to eke out a few gold moments.

Nope, not published, yet. But, I have loved every second of this challenge. I will deliver a gift from my soul to many strangers in name but kindred in soul. If you don’t love the process, the nail biting, the blood sweating, fuggedaboutit. You’ll end up admiring your words in the vanity mirror.

5 Comments on “Are You Published?

  1. Being published is indeed that standard by which a lot of writers are measured. It’s an endless list however, because once you’re published people find ways to keep whittling away at the foundations of what you have accomplished.

    For instance, i recently had someone negatively criticize my work saying that whoever likes it clearly has no appreciation for art and literature. Thus, I used to be chastised for not being published, and now some folks want to take jabs at me saying I’m one of those “mainstream” authors.

    Measuring the worth of an author is an extremely subjective, abstract thing to do. There’s no score sheet you fill up to come up with a grand total, and I’m glad there isn’t. That means that ultimately, it’s readers who carry their opinion of our work and the ones who determine whether we prosper in this craft or not.

  2. Thanks for the comment. When a person finds out I’m writing a book, the first thing they ask 9 of 10 times is, “Do you have a publisher?” As if all I have to do is make a phone call to Mr. Pub, then scribble some words down and hand it in.

  3. Yes, getting an agent or a publisher is like trying to call in during one of those radio concert ticket give away moments. Everytime there’s a massive flood, hurricane or line of tornadoes taking out people’s personal computers, there’s a little evil voice inside my head that says, “your chances of making it just improved!” Ehem, I, of course, don’t listen to that little voice … much.

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