I’m a writer. Becoming a writer was actually a lot simpler than I had imagined when I was a youth: basically I just wrote and read and wrote until I felt ok calling myself a writer. I’ve had a few minor crises about it–a crisis of genre, a struggle coming to terms with rejection–but becoming a writer was actually a breeze in most ways.
One way becoming a writer hasn’t been easy, though, has been learning to backburner a whole skillet of other interests in order to make time for writing. Making music, playing sports, continuing education, gaming–all these activities are sadly diminished for the time being and possibly for a long time to come, so that I can scrape together a few hours per week to write. But I’m even ok with that–being a writer means writing, after all, so to call myself a writer I do have to actually make the time to write.
And here’s the part about being a writer that I struggle with still: striking a balance between writing and self-promotion. I don’t have an agent. I don’t make enough from my writing to pay an agent. So if I want anyone to read my work, I have to send it out to magazines, or read it to people, or have someone want to read it for their podcast. And that takes a lot of time, time that I’d love to spend on the actual writing.
I do want people to read my stuff–I’m not Emily Dickinson. It took me a while to realize that the desire to have readers is different from (or at least doesn’t have to be the same as) the desire to be famous. I’m not nearly as interested in being famous. But I do love to have readers. As one of my ESL students wrote in an essay years ago, “when I am writing to you, I am saying please understand me.”
How much time should an artist spend on self-promotion? I’ve just spent a whole weekend sending stories out, trolling through Duotrope, writing a blog post about self-promotion. And not writing stories. How much time do you spend at your work (not necessarily your job, but your work)? How much time do you spend talking about your work?