Remember the first time you were published? In this blog post, I talk about the feelings associated with such a milestone and why I think everyone should experience it at least once in their lives
I was recently talking to a writer in their mid 50s. A small business owner, they live with their family in a tier two city and are a total newbie to writing. As I got to know about the writer's life, I realized they were shy of sharing what they were writing about even though their style was unique. While we were talking, what stuck me was something unrelated to their work, which it must be added needed substantial work. It was that Aha moment. If this sounds cliché, believe me I barely get those moments.
The writer was talking about their childhood when it hit me that at some bare level, writers and nonwriters are looking to experience something that's Unsaid, something Big and Universal. I am talking about that feeling you experience when you are published the first time. Ignore for a moment the what, where, how and when. The feeling is something everyone shares despite their differences. Call it high, a thrill or exuberance but I remembered at that moment how I had felt when I first saw my byline in a leading English newspaper.
It doesn't matter that today I shudder to look at that article but it was my first and felt nothing short of a milestone. Based on what I knew then, I did what I could and saw the result was recognizable. The good thing is that I have come miles since then.
Anyway, I remembered feeling elated and wanting to shake a leg when my mentor caught me and smiled back. We knew that this was not my best but it was the the first time I got published. That's when it hit me, OK, why should this writer and more like them not experience that energy?
Thanks to the limitations of the space here, I am unable to go into why it is terrible to deny someone that feeling, especially on grounds that are logically weak, hypocritical and righteous but I still want to briefly talk about the same.
Remember that my main point is that everyone should get to experience the feeling associated with getting published at least once in their lifetime.
Now I can imagine many resenting the likely consequences of such an event where everyone gets published at least once.
‘How can you say that, Priya! You are a former gatekeeper and a literary agent!
I am aware and as a matter of fact, as an agent, I can't help everyone get published. Rather, let us first remember that the biggest advocates of select few writers getting published are mostly trade publishers (irrespective of size) and their aims are primarily to run a profitable business apart from of course being recognized as a brand. Am assuming then most of us realize that the same businesses will not survive if they decided to publish literally everyone without any filter? Hence, the choice to publish X over Y is a business decision. Please ignore for the sake of argument, the subjectivities involved and the uncertainty typical to this business.
So the question is why does the majority or the vocal majority propagate, knowingly or unknowingly, something that advances the position of a certain type of business in publishing?
Besides, let's not forget the more important fact that today everyone is able to get published, whether we or they like it or not, all within a few clicks.
That there are fly by night operators who cheat their clients (read writers) is besides the point. There are fraudsters in every industry, not just publishing. That they don't have the same filters is a choice(s) to serve the business they run.
One of the things I find odd is how we change our opinions casually. Think about how technology has entered the most private parts of our lives today. Most middle class Indians will agree that today Zomato is part of our culture and makes a huge part of our lives easy and convenient. Yet a huge tribe gets hyper-charged if one can write and/or publish a book as easily! Remember that there are no formulas to getting published and each writer, especially indie has their struggle that remains invisible irrespective of they published and wrote. So if technology can helps nonwriters and writers to see their dreams come true, then why not? Don't you wonder why this convenience is OK but not that convenience?
Anyway, what I really look really forward to is hearing about your experience getting published the first time. What do you recall? Were you alone? Who did you first share it with? What was the next thing you did? I would love to know about the same. Please leave a comment!