*Written February 22nd, 2018
The publishing industry is huge. When you factor in small presses and indie (self-) publishing it gets a whole lot bigger. For many writers, new or seasoned, this can be a bit overwhelming: with so many books out there, it’s far too easy to wonder who’s going to read yours; to think yours might fall by the wayside. Something I struggled with for a while with my own writing was this need for validation. The idea that, until my fiction was published, my characters, worlds, and stories meant nothing. That they weren’t real.
I was wrong.
My worry stemmed from two places: my intermittent battle with depression, and an early belief that my work would only mean something if I were published by one of the Big Five. This combination was/is absolutely toxic; it took/takes the fun out of writing. There were times I would wonder why I was writing, why I was spending so much time creating worlds and characters. If I was the only one reading these stories, exploring these places and people, what was the point? It took me a while to answer that question, and to do so I had to think back to when I first started writing.
Life is confusing as a teenager, and teenage Luke had plenty going on in his head. Writing was a way to focus that chaos, to make sense of my thoughts and test the limits of my imagination. I knew almost immediately this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I hadn’t even begun to consider the business side of it. I was probably twenty, twenty-one when I did start thinking about the business of writing and it became this unhealthy obsession in the sense that my desire to create was driven by an unwarranted fantasy of commercial success. That without that success, everything I put onto page was worthless and fake. When agents failed to bite on query letters, when requested full-length manuscripts fell into the publishing ether it polluted my drive. It made me ask why; sometimes it made me want to quit on the spot.
But I didn’t.
I’m almost twenty-eight years old and I have learned that I don’t need my work published in order to find validation in it. I plan to publish, and I have, but these last several years have taught my that my worlds, characters, and stories have merit as soon as I begin to type. Just because other people have not yet been introduced to them, it does not make them any less real. They came from me, they are a part of me, they reflect my emotions, and they make me feel. They are real to me.
So they are valid.