Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Writer Zen: Caring and Not Caring

Technique Tuesday

Here's another Zen riddle: As novelists, we must both care and not care in order to succeed.

What do I mean?

  • You've got to write what you love, giving the story everything you've got-- and then not get even mildly perturbed by rejection ("It's not personal, it's just business") as we blithely proceed to pour heart and soul into our next project.
  • In public, say, for example, a signing, everyone is your friend-- and you mustn't pay any attention to reviews (positive or negative) from your erstwhile friends or take umbrage that none of them are actually buying your book.
  • Authors, editors, agents, publishing professionals (at least in public) are our colleagues-- and we must never grudge anyone for getting their inferior work published, or the fact that ours languishes for lack of marketing dollars, or bring up the glaring lack of editorial oversight, or ...

It feels like a situation where it would be easy to become cynical, behind our cheery public facade about the consensual illusion we call the publishing industry, if one isn't careful to chart a course that preserves integrity. (And by integrity I mean wholeness, not simply honesty.)

We must care enough, but not too much.

How can we do that?

I think one way is to remember and never lose touch with one of the fundamental things that sets the young and young at heart apart from the growed-ups: playfulness.

What do you think?

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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