Monday, December 14, 2009

Publishing doesn't validate your life

Mary DeMuth is a published Christian author and writing mentor. She has worked as a non-fiction freelancer and a novleist. Together with D'Ann Mateer and Leslie Wilson, Mary shares her understanding of the publishing industry, and the Christian publishing industry in particular, on their blog called So You Want to Be Published.

I'd like to use this post to share an article with you that Mary wrote on that blog, back in early 2008, called Publishing doesn't validate your life. I very highly recommend that your read this article, and spend some time thinking it through.

Introducing the subject, Mary DeMuth writes:
I have to admit before I was published, I thought that if I reached that nirvana called "published author," I'd have sweet validation. Every day would be smiles and dancing. You know what? I was wrong. Being published is terrific, mind you, but it doesn't bring happiness or validation. Instead, it adds more stress to your life.

If you want to published – and if you're reading this blog, then you probably do – you need to ask yourself what your core motivations are. Why do you want to get published? Are you looking for the nirvana-like validation that Mary was?

Mary talks about how getting published can be a "weird endless cycle of neediness". She lists the incremental steps of "getting published", starting with getting published for free in a magazine. She doesn't condemn these activities themselves – after all, getting published is a one-step-at-a-time journey – but, approached with the wrong mindset, each new step get make the goal of "getting published" an elusive, ever-changing if-only. You will never be satisfied.

In her article, Mary DeMuth goes on to describe how these "get published" type goals are actually blocked goals. She defines blocked goals, "A blocked goal is a goal that is dependent on other's actions or happenstance." Instead of keeping blocked goals, Mary adopted unblockable goals. Her new goals don't depend on the actions and viewpoints of others and the fickleness of the publishing industry. She lists her unblockable goals in her article.

Mary's unblockable goals are hers. They depend on what she wants from her writing, and they are linked tightly with her faith. They likely won't be your goals, exactly. After reading the article, sit down and work out your own list. What are your unblockable goals as a writer? Like Mary, yours should be tightly linked with your core beliefs as a person.

If you learn nothing else from Mary DeMuth's article, learn this: Publishing doesn't validate your life. I know I need to be reminded of this as much as anyone.

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