Sometimes, no matter how analytical you may be, insight comes in flashes.
For months now I’ve been ignoring a simple, valuable lesson for a beginning author: pay attention to your markets. I’d always considered this a unidirectional instruction. It meant, simply, that it was foolish to submit a piece to a market that wasn’t willing to publish that work.
It’s more than that, and I believe that realization is going to help me immeasurably. As such, I want to share my bit of insight with anyone who might not have encountered it yet. As one would expect from a simple flash of insight, that means this is going to be fairly straightforward.
I used to write a political blog, trying to explore and explain concepts which often get lost in the daily scrum of politics. I specifically attempted to avoid any discussion of hot-button topics. This increased the likelihood people would approach the posts with thought rather than the instinctive defensive or aggressive reactions associated with current events. I moved away from the blog because I wasn’t receiving much feedback, and because I was engaging in similar discussions and debates on a popular message board.
I used to write book reviews for a website that is on indefinite hiatus. My specialty was in older horror books, titles that had gone ignored over time or simply lacked contemporary buzz.
I used to post regularly to the aforementioned popular message board, and another one which attracted a smaller but very friendly subset of the original board’s visitors.
I post very irregularly to Facebook. And whereas I take a lot of pride in being allowed to contribute here, I am often left wondering what happened to the dozens of topical ideas I had when I started. Part of it is approaching the posts late… getting them done on the day of post instead of beforehand, as was my wont. More than that, though, is the tendency to get lost on the way to my point and the feeling of frustration that arises afterward. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone and eradicated dozens of paragraphs of a post, only to start with a new topic. Probably about as many times as I’ve written on Facebook only to eradicate it before sending.
It finally occurred to me why: I’ve been ignoring my markets. Facebook, for me, is problematic. There are many opinions with which I don’t want to spam all of my friends and associates. This is especially apparent when I get spammed. Seeing people I like and respect publicly displaying what I deem incoherence diminishes my respect for them despite my certain knowledge of their intellect. I have no desire to see myself similiarly disparaged in their eyes, particularly when things like potential future sales might be involved. The result is that I rarely go to Facebook. It’s not like a message board, where I can post on a topic and only the people interested in that topic are going to see it.
Similarly, my desire to plug certain older authors, or to vent some of the frustration I feel about sociopolitical issues, is inappropriate for here. But lacking those other sources of expression has caused me to commingle the thoughts there with what I believe would be good posts here, to no good effect.
I’ve always considered the valuable part of being attentive to markets as knowing what places will pay – in coin, in attention or in respect – for your work. Almost as worthwhile is the ability to express yourself in the ways you need so as to prevent discord from seeping into your thoughts and words. Markets aren’t simply external places to garner compensation, they’re also internal places where a person can best direct their efforts.
I’m starting up the blog again, and I’m going to be hunting down a message board in what little spare time I can scrounge. I expect this will help refocus my attentions when I’m here. If this has no positive effect I’m certain I will be apologizing for this post and retracting the sentiment behind it. I sincerely doubt I will be making any apology.