Thursday, June 25, 2015

If a tree falls in a forest...

Feeling all existential this week. So, you know the argument. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? My SO and I have batted this one back and forth from time to time, neither one of us budging from our preferred stand on the debate. Does sound rely on a receiver to exist? What do you think? And why am I asking? Well, it occurs to me that being a writer is a bit like this. If you produce work that no one reads are you still a writer?

Bear with me.

There is a saying - Publishing is a business, writing an art. The two will never completely see eye-to-eye. Sure some writers work on commercial principles, writing, as much as it is possible to do so, for the market. They focus on commercial titles which have a greater chance of selling in volume. Of course there are no guarantees. All writers take a risk that their fall in the forest will be unheard. Some of us write stories that try to answer some other need. At first publication is the yardstick of our success. And if we are published, then sales, further publication and perhaps even short-listings and awards become the new yardsticks. All of us want to be heard. We crave a receiver for our sound. The more receivers the better. It's our greatest fear. That we aren't real if no one hears our voice.

But hang on ... just backing the truck up here. That tree created sound. Celebrate the act of creation folks. Cos humanity sometimes gets a little caught up with the measures of things rather than the creation itself. What is the object of our pursuit? The commerce? Or the creation? Personally I think it's cool to seek both. On the whole, we are social creatures who like to share what we do. I need a way to show others (publication) and understandably I hope they enjoy it (sales, short-listings). And if I'm honest I personally find the measures highly desirable. My ego likes a good stroking as much as the next person does. So what happens when the gap between strokes widens? Truth is, the only thing you can control is what you produce. You can't control the publishers, the market place, the readers, so focus on the product. In some ways I can't even control that. If there is a switch inside my brain that would allow me to stop the urge to write I am yet to find it. So I am bound to keep creating. If no one is listening I intend to focus my attention on making the sounds regardless. Gotta make the best tree-falling noises I can. And just gotta be a tree that can keep getting back up again ;-)

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