Accentuate the positive

There’s a lot of doom and gloom in publishing these days, although if you’ve followed along on this blog, you’ll know that book publishing has been doomy and gloomy since about 1847, and that I encourage people not to get too bent out of shape over it.  


“But!” you exclaim.  “This time it’s different!”


Every time it’s different.  And every time it’s the same.  


Here’s the thing: there is nothing you, the writer, can personally do about the recession, imprints closing, publishers trimming their acquistions, editors losing their jobs, and agents retiring to Peoria.  Except maybe to go buy a bunch of books and encourage your friends to do the same.


Here’s the other thing: even if publishing weren’t having a few, err, struggles, the sky would still be falling on writers because: they’re too old, they’re too young, they’re not talented enough, they’re too talented for the hacks in the publishing world to appreciate, they’d get this book done if only they didn’t have to work their day job, they’d get this book done if only they didn’t have to worry so much about money, they’d get this book done if only they didn’t have so much money and needed to, they’d get this book done if only their kids were grown, and they should have written this book when the kids were little.


You see where I’m going with this.  I’m not saying you’re crazy and neurotic for thinking this way and I’m not saying that some or all of these beliefs are not true.  It’s just that none of them are helpful to you.


I had lunch with the amazing Neil Salkind yesterday and he reiterated a point I’ve made time and again about perseverance: so much about success in publishing is about not giving up.  That’s it.  And not giving up is the one thing you can control.


Whenever I want to go to my room and quietly suck my thumb, I keep in mind these two mantras about writing and publishing:   


Seek constant improvement

Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t


Easier said than done, I know (I came up with that list of disasters from my own brain, after all).  But worth the effort.