Monday, December 10, 2007

"There's not an obligation to be famous"

I heard a story on NPR's 'All Things Considered' tonight about an odd, reclusive musician named Jandek.

While his music is eerie and more than a little uncomfortable for my ear to listen to, the story about him made me sit in my parked car, riveted, until the end. What really struck me was this quote that completes the story, by New York Times and Rolling Stone music critic and author Douglas Wolk:

"There's not an obligation to be famous. We live in a culture that has impressed on us the idea that everybody not only can be famous, but should or must be famous, and if you're not famous, you've failed, and if you're making art and the world doesn't cheer you, then it's a failure, and that's just a lie. And it's a lie that Jandek realizes is a lie, and he's gotten around it his own way."

I've been in a funk for weeks. It's a periodic funk, one that infects my native optimism, catches me unaware. After listening to this story, I think I understand the funk better.

The problem is, I've confused the process of pitching to agents in the hope of future publication with being an artist. In doing so, I've given over my power into the hands of strangers. I am not someone who deals well with feeling out of control so I've turned my anxiety inward and it's not doing good things to my creative process.

I need to strike some sort of balance. I can't live my life waiting for 'approval' from strangers who may or may not be able to facilitate publication. I'm also not the type to become an eccentric recluse who turns her back on the world. Self publication is not an option for me--I really don't want to have to be the editor, publisher, and marketing department for my novels.

I want to write.

I want my stories to find an audience.

I'm willing to work hard at making that a reality.

I'm not willing to sacrifice my soul to do it.

Either the agents who have my manuscript will like it or they won't. I have no control over their reactions. If I spend my mental energy fretting about what they might be thinking, I'll go stark raving crazy. That's not the way forward.

I think Jandek must have come to that understanding a long time ago.


  1. Lisa~ Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog. I am trying to make peace with my Texas winter.

    Hope your funk lifts soon. You are an amazing writer and eventually the pieces will fall into place and the secret will be out. Don't be discouraged. Your gift is a treasure in itself.

  2. everything has it's time.. your time will come soon.. you will see..

    just keep writting.. and making people's soul free..