Sunday, August 31, 2008

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 doing some gigs together now.  I'm upgrading my dream to have lunch with Anne. Now I want to have dinner with Anne and Liz together after some show. Liz/Anne, click here to RSVP with me

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.

Mary Hershey

Original post August 20th, 2007


Shari Green said...

Inspiring post - thanks Mary!

Cheryl said...

This is very freeing--thank you! I love how you encourage us all the time to rethink our perceptions of ourselves (and the way society or people might label us--shy, introverted, whatever). AND to rethink how we can network and market our work even if we truly are introverts.

So I've nominated your blog for the Brilliante Weblog Premio Award. (I hope you don't mind--it's one of those blog awards.) You can visit my blog for more info if you feel like it.

Mary Hershey said...

Thanks for coming by, Shari!

And, Cheryl, wow-- appreciate the nomination. Glad the blog is freeing for you.

Mary Hershey