As a small child I used to hide behind my mother’s skirt, when introduced to guests. Shy, the answers I gave when questioned by strangers were whispers.
Alone in my room, while playing dress-up, I’d prance and sing. Pretending to be someone else gave me the freedom not to worry about making mistakes.
Writing words on paper gave me an outlet for expression. The ability to create a permanent means of communication is powerful. Thus, my love of writing was so great that even before I could adequately spell out the words, I dictated a play to my older brother to type out my manuscript. What a thrill to share copies of the mimeographed manuscript with a few selected classmates. I still remember the storyline. Not entirely original, the plot featured a fairy princess and a clever mouse ( I was the fairy princess) who traveled to an underground magical kingdom to rescue a human princess held in a dungeon by an evil witch.
At that time, not many second graders wrote plays, so I had everyone’s full attention in the classroom. An audience was not hard to find. Fast forward to adulthood 2022, and I am one of thousands of writers hoping to be read. I am pleased if I get one or two comments on my weekly blog post.
I understand, everyone’s busy. There’s so much to read out there online and in print, and only so much time. Each week I receive dozens of newsletters announcing the latest issues of literary magazines, announcements of newly released books, and must-read blog posts. If I read everything, I’d never have time to write.
According to Statista, in 2020, 44,240 people identified themselves as professional authors and writers. This number doesn’t even include many of the “part-time” writers, people who are writers, but pay their bills by working in another profession. With so many talented writers in the world, the competition is intense.
Back to the subject of shyness and who is reading what you write. Some days I like to fantasize that someone in the future will come across a file of my unpublished manuscripts and decide they’ve discovered a treasure trove. In the year 3013 I’ll be a famous author. Then I ask myself, will there even be a world at all, when most likely our descendants will be either burrowed living beneath mountains to avoid the hazardous heat or too busy avoiding storms, and floods to have time for literature. The reality is no one, other than my descendants, is likely to read my old manuscripts or peruse my old computer files. What I don’t get published in this life is probably not going to get read, so I need to do the best I can to make that possible.
Self-promotion for me is hard. In my previous career as a magazine editor I had a knack for marketing, but I’m not comfortable continually hawking my work. On the other hand, one does not get ahead in this world by being modest.
I know of many mediocre artists who support themselves handsomely by telling the world they are great. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes believable. I’m a truth teller. But maybe there is a middle ground. Even if as a writer, you don’t want to sing your own praises, one thing you can do is make your work accessible.
Writers, you need a portfolio—an online presence to showcase your work. Maybe you’ll never have a printed book published or maybe you’ll have several, but you can showcase that as well on a website.
Readers, if you have a few precious moments to read an essay, short story, or blog, what a precious gift to make a comment to the writer. It’s one way you can let them know they are being heard.
Every day I spend a little time checking out new literary magazines and platforms, to see if they might be a good place to send my work for possible publication. Some sites are beautifully designed and easy to navigate. Others are unappealing and difficult to access. I also visit other writer’s websites and am disappointed when information is old and outdated. One of my new year’s resolutions for 2022 was to see if I could get my own website where my blogs were posted updated. It’s taken a lot of work, but with some professional technical help, I’ve accomplished my goal for the time being. So please visit my new website and tell me what you think. Follow me on twitter at SN Maril. And thank you for reading.