Monday, August 20, 2007

On Finding Your Own Way to Success

Ask a hundred writers or illustrators or inventors or Olympians how one can achieve success, and you'll get that many different, enthusiastic and evangelical responses. It is a condition of our humanity that we each are enamored with our own hardwon path, and want to share it with EVERYONE. And everyone should follow it-- because we do love to be right and we do love to help.

Author John Green and his brother have devoted themselves to a noble mission of decreasing World Suck, and, man, I am grateful to them both for that important work. If Robin and I have a calling at Shrinking Violets, it would be to decrease World Insistence That There is Only One Way to Publication, Marketing & Success. Okay, that just isn't nearly as catchy as decreasing World Suck, so we're going to have to work on it.

Elizabeth Gilbert , author of the transforming Eat Pray Love, has a terrific essay on writing that you really ought to read. The whole thing. It's marvelous. It has much to say about living, and not just writing. And just fyi, she and Anne Lamott are going to do a gig together at UCLA next Spring. I'm upgrading my dream to have lunch with Anne. Now I want to have dinner with Anne and Liz together after the show. Liz/Anne, click here to RSVP with me. I know all the best places to park near the university. :-]

Okay, but I digress. Here is an excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert's provocative essay.

"Nobody can tell you how to succeed at writing (even if they write a book called “How To Succeed At Writing”) because there is no WAY; there are, instead, many ways. Everyone I know who managed to become a writer did it differently – sometimes radically differently. Try all the ways, I guess. Becoming a published writer is sort of like trying to find a cheap apartment in New York City: it’s impossible. And yet…every single day, somebody manages to find a cheap apartment in New York City. I can’t tell you how to do it. I’m still not even entirely sure how I did it. I can only tell you – through my own example – that it can be done. I once found a cheap apartment in Manhattan. And I also became a writer."

In writing, selling for publication, and marketing your work, we invite you to honor-- heck, celebrate-- the unique artist that you are. When you created your work, you used your own voice. Why in the name of heaven would you abandon it in marketing?

This, from another writer, to further illuminate our way. "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." (Cool, thanks, Will.)

Here's to your inimatable voice and style-- trust it to take you exactly where you need to go.



Robin L said...

OMG! Too funny! We must have been cruising Elizabeth Gilbert's site at the same time this weekend, because I saw that same notice about she and Anne Lamott appearing together and almost sent you the link!

Anonymous said...

So, like in the event that Liz and Anne don't email us, we should probably just go anyway, doncha think?? I'd love to see them together!

I think Anne must be following our "buddy system" advice to promotion-- last year she appeared with Mary Chapin Carpenter, and now Liz Gilbert.