Someone told me once that if you don’t publish anything by the time you’re twenty-five, then you aren’t any good. All of the greats published before they were twenty-five–some of them were even dead by then, you know. Of course, I knew this was all rubbish, but in the back of my mind, the idea took root and persisted. I had to be published by twenty-five. I had to be published, not because it meant I was successful, but that I was one of the greats.
I’ll be twenty-six in a little over a month. Though I’ve been published in a newspaper and a required reading book for my high school, I haven’t had that great bit of success. I’ve not been recognized as great, despite entering contests, winning medals, getting As. Everyone was shocked I hadn’t been published yet. I remember how well you wrote in high school; when is your book coming out? Have you found an agent? What happened?
Since I’ve been out of school, I’ve seen many people get published. I’ve seen people get published who were only slightly interested in writing. Maybe I’ll write a book. I’ve seen people published whose passions lie in other areas. I’ve seen people published that, being honest, I didn’t think had good ideas or wrote about trivial things.
I began to be a hater of published authors. I could do that and be published, but I’m not compromising my art! I thought. Then I started a book in a genre I never had an interest in writing that sells well. It was something I wanted to write and was still good writing, but I felt like I was writing it now, pushing forward with it now, because it fits the current trend in publishing (and no, there are no vampires, shape shifters, or angels). I was obsessed with being published before twenty-six, even though I didn’t have many things worth sending to a publisher.
The writing wasn’t fun anymore, nor was it rewarding. I wasn’t trying to tell a good story well; I was looking for recognition, for validation. I wanted someone to say, officially, Yes you can write well, and people are interested in what you have to say. I was even developing an unhealthy attachment to my blog stats.
Now I’m settling back down. I’ve refocused myself. Now, I realize I don’t just want to be published; I want to publish something I’m proud of, something that’s ready to be out in the world. I realize that either people want to read what I write or they don’t; it has no bearing on the fact I feel compelled to write, and I will keep writing no matter if it’s published in my lifetime to worldwide acclaim or critically and commercially panned, or not published at all.
What are your thoughts on an “age” for publication? Do you have an age you are aiming to be published by? How important is publication to you?
- Questioning and adjusting our goals (joel.is)
- Is Publishing Dead?: Wubbit’s Founder Says No…and Offers Five Key “Edits” That Can Revive the $40-Billion Industry (prweb.com)
- How One Writer Is Riding the E-Book Revolution (dailyfinance.com)
- Tips for Building Hype for Your Book (brighthub.com)