How Will Publication Change You?

The throngs of pre-published writers ache for the day they'll find their book sharing space on shelves in bookstores and libraries. To walk in and find a volume with your name on it, side by side with big-name authors is an experience to look forward to.

But have you ever thought about how publication might change your perceptions about yourself and others? Taherah Mafi has.

Mafi's debut novel, Shatter Me, recently came out, and the formerly active blogger has been unusually silent. Why? She feels different now. 

Uncomfortable with the recognition and adulation that comes from publication. 

Unsure what to say when people exclaim over her accomplishment. 

And uneasy that some writers might feel she's on another level from them just because she garnered a book contract.

I really hope you read Mafi's post about how conflicted she feels. I imagine most first-time authors feel the same way, but they aren't as transparent (or humorous) as Mafi. I love how she pinpoints the tendency to under-appreciate artists and writers until they have the "stamp of approval" of a sale.

Do you think experiencing publication could make you uncomfortable?

10 comments:

  1. I (self-)published in May and, even though I'm not facing the difficulties of dealing with my book next to bestsellers in bookstores, I am facing the difficulties of my novel engulfed within the flood of digital book stores...

    Yet, perhaps from some unfulfilled journalistic dreams, I continue to happily blog along...

    I'm going to do a post about this post and Tahereh's :-)

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  2. It's interesting how we always think it will be different, easier or greener on the other side ... I read a post this morning on WriterUnboxed.com - a letter to book Santa. It raised interesting issues that published writers have - a new set of issues. Thanks for sharing the link. It's a good question.

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  3. I'm going to go read that blog entry now, thanks for the link!

    Also going to check out Alexander's post when it's up, if I remember. ;)

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  4. You know, I haven't thought much about it. The underlying assumption was that I would feel better - more assured and vindicated somehow.

    I didn't really spare a thought for what all the acclaim might do to me. I think, like Mafi, I would be terribly uncomfortable about all the attention, and really unsure as to where I stood now with all my writer friends who hadn't acquired a contract (yet).

    I'd probably hide from the world. It's what I usually do!

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  5. Just published a post about this post and Tahereh's:
    http://nfaa.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/when-a-writer-becomes-a-writer/

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  6. @Alexander: thanks for reposting this!
    @Stacy: it's interesting to think that we could actually be more uncomfortable when we're published!
    @Trisha: the link to Alexander's post is up now.
    @Sonia: I'm with you. I think I might have a hard time looking people in the eye!

    ~Debbie

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  7. I'll go read the post as soon as I finish commenting. I've always rolled my eyes at writers who say that publication didn't change a thing for them, when obviously it did--increased acclaim and opportunities. But this is a fascinating glimpse into the other side. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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  8. You're welcome, Charlotte! Enjoyed your website!

    ~Debbie

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  9. Just saw this post, Debbie. Interesting. Last may, after a 10 month stretch out of work, on a Wednesday I was called by an old manager and offered a position--which I gladly accepted and went to work the following Monday. On the Friday before I went back to work, a small (Indie) publisher accepted one of my manuscripts. I am still editing it. He made some requests after his initial read and my revisions (months and months later) are still ongoing. I have blamed it on returning to work, on working overtime, on gardening, on Gingerbread parties and holiday frenzy. Nearly everything but it was. It took a long time for me to admit to myself, and then say it out loud--I am intimidated by the idea of being published. I don't kid myself--lots of things will change. Maybe a lot of it will be in my head--my perception of it, but some of it won't. The scariest thing I anticipate is having people I know, neighbors, co-workers, etc. read my work. Weird, lol, I know. Soon...

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  10. Teresa, you sound just like me! I wonder how many other writers feel the same way?

    ~Debbie

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