There’s a lot of talk these days about the future of publishing, writing, being creative, etc. etc.
You must self publish! You must publish with a big house in New York! You must publish through nothing but Amazon! Buy Indie! And so on.
People are taking sides. Which, though I think is kind of dumb, I understand why. People want an answer. They want a formula. They want to know that if they do X+Y they get Z. And so they look at other people’s successes and other people’s paths and think, “Aha! THAT is the way!”
And they follow this like it’s a new messiah wandering through the desert.
It’s the same shit we learn in high school and college. If we follow all the rules we’re guaranteed a particular outcome. Take your classes, get your credits, and it’s all unicorn glitter and handjobs from there on out.
Which is so much horseshit you could fertilize a field with it.
Life’s a crap shoot and we’ve got no guarantees that we’re going to win the lottery, find a soulmate, live past 50. Whether it’s that pony you didn’t get when you were five years old, or that six-figure, multi-book deal with all that fuck you, movie-option money that never materialized, there’s something that didn’t happen the way you wanted it to.
We’re lucky if X+Y even equals a fucking number.
I was reading an interview in Wired the other day with Joi Ito of MIT’s Media Lab about how to survive in this fast paced world of change. He was talking about Silicon Valley venture capitalism and the Internet, mostly, but the ideas hold true for publishing, writing, or hell, just about anything else.
One of his points was that things are changing so rapidly that if you blink everything’s going to be different.
The maps no longer work. But the compasses do.
When the terrain is shifting so quickly, it’s more important to know where your goal is than it is to know how you’re going to get there.
And right now in publishing and writing and getting your creative work out there, things are changing very, very quickly.
Knowing how you’re going to accomplish something is absolutely essential. But what works today may not work tomorrow. And if we want to be successful we need to be flexible. We need to be willing to change our strategy so when what works now doesn’t serve us we can shift with the terrain.
If that sounds bad, it’s not. We have options now that didn’t exist ten years ago.
Personally, I think that’s pretty goddamn exciting.
So do what works for you. Not what works for someone else. Their maps are useless for your journey because it’s YOUR journey. Chances are the map you have in your mind is pretty useless, too. Just remember where you want to end up, keep your eye on that and stay flexible.
Ditch the map. Keep the compass.
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