Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Illusionary Goal of Satisfaction

If  you are wondering why so many writers complain about their lack of satisfaction, let me explain:  Most of us sweat and agonize about our first sale ever or the first sale to a reputable magazine. After that happens we worry about whether we can repeat our amazing success (after only the five gazillionth rejection) but, hey, now that we've done it once....

Only the next sale or lack thereof is worse because we now know that we actually wrote something someone was willing to pay us for, and we now have, you know, actual readers, for God's sake!  Only the rejections keep arriving, propelling us into ever deepening feelings of frustrated inadequacy.  It is disheartening to write brilliant (IMHO) pieces only to see them fail in the marketplace.

Any successive sales, coming fitfully if at all, only gives us hope that we can repeat our success. Each new sale however carries an additional weight of concern since we have acquired a following --fans, perhaps-- who might somehow recognize our name.  We can't disappoint them so we bear down harder, trying to force the market to bend to our will, to accept our genius for what it is, damn it!

But the rejections continue to arrive and, infrequently, some acceptances.  Our concern now is not why we can't sell our work, but why can't we sell more, more, MORE!  And more frequently. And to the markets we most desire to penetrate. And to get nominated for awards.  What is wrong with these people, we mutter as we pound another thousand hard-earned words into the aether?  Will all these become nothing more than parts of our posthumous collection?

What I mean to say is that it never gets better.  Once a writer starts selling regularly they begin to worry that their muse might disappear.  They nightly fret that the ideas aren't flowing as easily as they remember them doing while they were struggling to gain a foothold. They begin to worry that the genre has passed them by, that their voice is no longer relevant, and that they have become less than a footnote in history.

It never seems to end, this self-doubt, this feeling of being merely lucky instead of skilled and that someday, somewhere, someone will discover that we are little more than a hack, a fraud, and a near-plagarist as well.

In the words of the song "I can't get no satsifaction..."


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