I’m a hobby writer. I’m not too concerned with writing for an audience, whether book buyers or editors. I believe this keeps me challenging my comfort zone with the stories I tell. I’m free because I’m not seeking approval or validation from anyone else. I’m not worried by how my work will be received by editors or readers.
Ironically enough, this is when I get the most positive feedback. Perhaps not online through likes and reposts — I’ve also come to accept that becoming “Internet famous” isn’t the way for me to go; I make deeper & longer-lasting connections offline. Without the metrics and data of online shares, I know that I’m being discussed word-of-mouth, given by the sales of books I’ve stopped pushing and have few to no reviews online. And I enjoy performing my work at live events, attending book fairs and writer conferences, etc. Being around all those people at once can be draining for an introvert like me, but the crowds have dispersed and I have a moment to breathe, I’m generally energized and excited rethinking the day’s events.
It took me years to be comfortable with these aspects of my writing goals, style and why I write. I’ve felt pressure from outside forces (family, friends, strangers) and even from myself to use writing to become something I’m not. They meant well, but it was also soul crushing. I had to learn to say, “No, that’s not for me.” And I’m happier and better off for it.
I enjoy writing, but I’ve never much loved the idea of being “a writer.” I don’t have some special insight into life and literature; I’m making it up as I go along most of the time. Writing is fun for me. When I tried to be a writer who worried about exposure and paid assignments, trying to capitalize every moment to prove myself as an “authority,” writing became less fun. It became stressful. It became too much of what I used writing to escape from.
In response to this, I took a step back. I shut down. I had to let things go, including the independent press I had started. It took me months to get back to what attracted me to writing in the first place: To write what I enjoy reading; not concerned with being a spokesperson for my race or becoming the next literary golden child. There are other authors to fill those positions.
I really want to make enough passive income through book sales to supplement the money I get from other jobs that I perform. Being on bestsellers lists or in every bookstore nationwide hasn’t appealed to me in years.
I have my own goals for writing, and what comes with it. I’ve achieved many of them this year. I still have a long way to go. In 2017 and beyond, I will accomplish more of what I set out to do.