Some days, when it comes to writing, I feel like I’m rocking a mullet.
“Say what?!” you cry. “Nobody rocks a mullet.”
I kinda think Kiefer did, in The Lost Boys. But otherwise, you’re right. Nobody rocks a mullet. But stay with me for a minute.
On the surface, publishing is a business. Money changes hands, professional people are invested in your success, you’re invested in your own success. Your brand matters, your reputation matters. You’re concerned about what people think about you, about what they say about you. You set up Google Alerts so you can keep track of what people say about you. You set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, you blog. You stress about writing a “marketable” book, you worry about your cover art and what it “says” about your story. You grow anxious over having to talk about what you write, because you’re a writer, not a speaker, and you start wondering what you should wear to future speaking engagements even though they’re still months away and it’s entirely possible no one will show up. You question whether you picked the right name to write under, and whether your author photo really captures the essence of you. You worry about whether anyone will buy your book.
Publishing is a business, and like any business you’ve been involved in, you want to succeed. You want your book to sell well. You want to feel like it’s not a fluke you’re here. You want to feel like you’ve earned every great thing that’s happened to you so far, despite the mean little voice in the back of your head that whispers how lucky you got, how you were in the right place at the right time, and to enjoy this while it lasts because pretty soon people will figure out that you don’t deserve to be here at all, because you didn’t pay your dues and you didn’t get a thousand rejections, so it’s not fair you even made it this far.
And all the while you smile. You pretend you’re confident, you stand up straight, you speak like you know what you’re talking about. Because you’re expected to be a professional, goddammit, and PUBLISHING IS A BUSINESS.
But despite all the work you do to make your business a success, you can’t deny that writing books is still fun. Really fun. Hell, it’s a PARTY. Because you get to wake up every morning and do something creative, something that fulfills you in ways no other job ever did before, something that pushes you to get better with every page you write, something that allows you to meet other writers who totally “get” you, something that tests your stamina and character and self-esteem, something that makes you realize you’d do this even if you weren’t getting published. You’d do this even if you won a $100 million in the state lottery tomorrow. You’d do this no matter what, because It Fills You Up and It Makes You HAPPY.
Business in the front, party in the back, people. I make no apologies for the mullet.