Now that Oprah’s 25-year-old show is going away and even Oprah is leaving the television network and going her own way, I think it’s time to break apart two very old and entrenched aspects of a writing career: creativity and fame.
For many, many years, the plague of a writer’s imagination has been, “I am going to finish this book and then maybe Oprah will like it.”
Then you know how the rest of the fantasy goes. Lights, action, camera, that writer is delivered from obscurity, the book becomes a huge international bestseller, and the rest is history.
Because that’s the experience most writers have, especially with their first books.
Of course it isn’t.
And now there is a new pressure that goes like this: We have social networking so now we no longer even need Oprah.
To this, I’ll simply say, “Oprah, if you happen to be reading this, I am always available, any time, any place.”
And don’t think I’m kidding because I’m very serious. I’d love to meet Oprah. She is an amazing, empowered creative person.
As for the rest of us, it’s time to excuse this elephant from the room and with its exit relieve the inordinate pressure of the overnight success strategy myth as enviable, preferable, or even plausible for the average publishing writer.
Here’s what I want to say to writers, who feel discouraged, badgered, and even kind of battered by folks in the biz and their blind obedience to the overnight, over-the-top vision of literary success: it’s over.
The insanity of overnight success is over and it’s been replaced by something much more sane, human, and rational. It’s been replaced by author ownership.
Every writer in the world is now a publisher, just as Oprah is now a television network. And what this means is that the creativity that has always been in writers’ hands can now be leveraged and shared appropriately.
Creative power can now be tapped and exercised by authors in a fashion appropriate and proportionate to the experience of the creator, and not anyone’s absurdly over-the-top perception of what is humanly possible for, say, a first-time author.
Now, I am a platform expert. So perhaps you are confused.
How can I tell writers not to go for overnight success?
Well, I am not the kind of platform expert who goes around encouraging people to abandon themselves for overnight success. I am the kind that teaches people to cultivate their own creative power and grow it over time, because this is the only kind of success that is ever lasting. It’s the only kind of success that is worth having at all.
Instead of saying something absurd — like now you get to spend every minute of your life online, isn’t that great??? — I want to say: write for the joy of it.
Let the creativity that you experience every day be half of the reward, writers. That’s where so much of the personal satisfaction comes from anyway.
Realize how many people walk around in this world cut off from their own incredible source of joy. While people who write every day get to splash around in the waters of joy every single day.
Then afterwards, we can channel some of our leftover creative energy into platform development because platform development is just as creative and joyful as writing. And sure, when you have a book coming out, work extra hard. Put your whole self into it. Why wouldn’t you? Be creative. Be visionary. Do something big. Make as big of a splash as you can. Launch that baby into the world with as much fanfare as possible.
But remember that platform development means connecting how you serve to an increasingly and incrementally larger audience over time, all the time. And anyone who doesn’t talk about the joy and creativity that comes part and parcel with this effort simply doesn’t know about it and also perhaps has other plans for you and your creative resources.
What I am saying is that you can cultivate and nurture your writing career success the same way you would cultivate and nurture a garden. Steadily. Slowly. With lots of care and effort. With the personal joy and satisfaction that comes just from the doing. And with a lot less insanity.
The micro-publishing revolution is here. It’s been here for a while and it’s maturing faster than most individual authors’ career do. Every day that goes by it is getting easier and easier to produce yourself and cultivate your own unique writing career.
But don’t use these networking tools as just another way to destroy yourselves, writers. If you are moving faster than the speed of light and you think that’s a good think, than you are moving too fast to see how you are going to be in pain as soon as, and if, you ever slow down and start to feel again.
Start to see instead that authorship equals ownership. And ownership equals creative power. And creative power is where all of the joy is. It’s where all the joy has always been.
And the promise of joy only comes to those who use it. And you can activate your joy as soon as your creativity begins to matter to you. Because without this creative power, there is no point. Without your authentic self-expression, all the success in the world would be about as valuable as ash.
After even an hour of experiencing your own creative power, you can have joy. And then you become one of the richest folks alive.
And why would you want to have it any other way?