I'm all for not being perfect - at least during that initial period of creativity. My brain doesn't work if I'm writing in a secluded office with nobody seeing the work, which is why I publish as I go. The chapters I publish each work aren't going to be as perfect as a fully edited book, but the key thing is that I've been writing consistently for about eight years, which has produced three novels I'm really proud of (plus my current project).

What I'm now trying is to take some of those projects to the next stage, compiling them into ebooks and paperbacks in a tightly edited form. That way it's the best of both worlds - the initial serialisation to motivate me, and for people who like to follow a book as it comes out of the furnace, followed by a polished book for those who want the finished article.

Good luck with it all!

Expand full comment

It’s tough being a multi-passionate creative. I admire people who have a laser focus on one thing, but that will never be me. My brain doesn’t work that way. The thing I find tricky is integrating this tendency with life constraints and my goals. When I’m writing I feel like I’m neglecting my art. If I’m writing one kind of fiction I feel as if another story is tugging at my trousers, pulling me away to a new adventure. If I’m working to earn that necessary thing called money, I find that I’m wanting to do something else. But I only have so much energy. I want to blog about all kinds of things, like you, but if I do that I don’t do the other things I want to do. When I was young I could do all the things. Not any more. When I read your post my first response was, ‘yeah! ‘ But then I wondered if any of us ever get to be truly eclectic in what we do. Are we ever truly free? I think how we approach this is driven by our goals. There’s always part of our lives that’s constrained by a focused audience. If we have a job, our focus is set by our employer and their clients for the time we work for them each week. However the trade off with that loss of freedom means that in spare time creatives can do what they like. Splash around in the pool of their creativity and bake in the warm sunshine of their accomplishments. Income is nice but it isn’t needed. But if we want to have our creative work be our job—that is, be an authorpreneur or commercial artist—we need to somehow find a paying audience. And somehow in the vast number of online businesses, books and blogs, we need to be seen. I’m yet to think of a way to be seen without having some kind of focus or niche. The multi-passionates who do this with commercial success build one niche at a time. It’s tricky—but I admire the fact that you are giving it a go.

I hope you keep writing, Liz, fiction as well as non fiction and that you find your audience for both. And if you find ways to sell your books that are outside of the traditional pathways, let us know. Before I forget—congratulations on your podcast—I’ll try and listen sometime this week.

Expand full comment

Hi, Elizabeth. No need to apologize for getting back to me. I don't have any lofty expectations! I always assume everyone else is as busy as I am.

Yes, my writing in both my blog and Substack gives me enormous relief from life's challenges, no matter what they are currently. It's a great way for me to think things through and problem solve. I have a tendency to withdraw and obsess about hard things, so the weekly exercise of letting it all hang out (the more imperfectly, the better!), is a great help to me.

My family is super critical, too. I have very little support from them for my creative work, and a lot of condemnation. However, I'm not writing for them!

I've been looking at newsletters, comments, and discussions about reading serial fiction in various formats and on various platforms. Interesting. I don't care how my material is read. I hope everyone will use whatever device/software works for them. I'd love to see my work in print someday. For now, Substack works well for me as a writer. I don't have trouble reading other serial writers on this platform, but I've read enough to realize many others do have various complaints with the way serialization works here. It's all an interesting discussion. In the meantime, I will continue to write and post. My first 2 books are completely finished and edited, so I have a long way to go to get them both up in serial form.

Thanks for sharing yourself and your struggles here, as well as your writing! I'm always interested. Take care!

Expand full comment

All perfectionism ever did for me was make me very, very, small. Like living in a cage too small to either stand up in or lie down and stretch out in. Niches are small. Social media can be small, tight, petty, & punitive. Who you are, who we are as creatives, is not small. I get a lot of inspiration from all the people I read on Substack who refuse to be small. Talking to you, Terrified Creative! Let's help each other refuse to be small.

Publish your fiction on Substack. Why not? Whether anyone reads or not is not your business. Look at Simon K, who I also follow. He does what he does. He's pleased with his work and his process, except when he's not, and then he tweaks it, all the while being transparent about what's working and what's not. He's real. He's not a perfect robot. He's a writer.

I work as a lifeguard and swim teacher. I garden. I love my cats. I'm managing the care of my elderly demented mother, who I just had to put into memory care in Colorado, from Maine. I cry a lot. I have anxiety. I deal with the ice and snow and high heating costs in Maine. I need a new(er) car. I worry about money all the time. I just turned 69. How did that happen? I blog. I write. I'm terrified about putting up paywalls on Substack and my blog, but I'm going to do it anyway. I'm just a regular person, like everyone else.

A little over a year ago I decided to publish my first book (I was writing the third) on Substack. I figured out how to do it. I made up my mind. I imported my blog subscriber list of about 100 people. I thought of all the reasons why nobody would ever read me -- the fantasy niche is too full, my work is too long, I've never published before, my work is politically incorrect (and proud of it!), my family is mortified by some of my writing, my mother thinks (before she lost the ability to think) I'm a slut because I write some erotica, people will say I culturally appropriate because I work with fairytales and oral traditions from around the world, etc., etc. On and on. But I was very clear that I love my work. It's exactly the kind of writing I'm always looking for and can never find as a reader. I'd rather have a handful of interested readers than milk the SEO cow for Google. I've always been an unconventional, out-of-the-box kind of person. I've always known neither my blog nor my fiction would interest a lot of people, and that's OK with me. I publish with Substack because it's fun. Because I'm proud of my work. Because I want to share. Because I'm interested in other writers and what they're doing, even if their fiction isn't my kind of reading.

I let go of all my expectations (positive and negative) and refused to worry about outcomes. I wrote. I published. I had fun! I found other serial writers to enjoy and learn from. I comment and contribute when I feel I have something useful to say. This week I'm publishing my 60th weekly post. I have well under 50 readers. Few comment. Like maybe one or two! But I'm having a lot of fun. I'm proud of myself. I'm more confident. I believe in my work. I'm really enjoying Substack. I lost nothing and gained a lot, enough to keep me going for another 60 posts!

There used to be an old ad campaign for the brand Nike (athletic wear) in the US. Just do it! Don't think about it, Elizabeth. Just do it! Let go of the rest.

Expand full comment