This wasn’t something I expected, but self-publishing has allowed me a greater level of creative freedom. Why didn’t I expect this? Because I have always written exactly what I wanted to write. I am incapable of writing anything else. I’ve never been able to conform my writing to what agents, publishers, and the average James-Patterson-buying public might want. (Hah! you might say. No wonder I haven’t been published by a traditional publishing house.) I figure that if I love one of my stories, if I am compelled to read it again and again, then surely some small little sliver of the reading public might enjoy it as well. And even if no one else would, I am still incapable of writing anything other than the little stories in my head. So I never considered that I didn’t have complete creative freedom.
Self-publishing has taught me otherwise. I’ve spent years, with the assistance of a great literary agent, trying to get a book published (most recently Her Very Own Demon). Despite the many positive comments from publishers, none of them accepted it, so now I’m going to self-publish the novel. And in doing so I’ve experienced something unexpected. A whole level of stress, previously unrecognized by me, has simply vanished.
While writing, in the act of transforming the visions in my head to a story on the page, I live completely in that moment. Everything else, everything in the outside world, simply fades to nothing. When away from the keyboard, however, when reflecting on what I’ve written, there has always been a whisper of a voice saying, will anyone else like this? Will an agent want to represent it? Will a publishing house agree to publish it? How is someone else going to view this character or that plot point? That niggling little whisper has, I now understand, caused a slight underlying stress, as well as a shade of doubt, regarding everything I’ve written.
But now, with self-publishing? Not so much. I can publish exactly what I want, without that underlying whisper. It is silent. I’ve cut out the middleman (publisher) and his opinions. He no longer has the power to decide… anything. His voice no longer thrums through my thoughts and causes doubt. I am free! And now I find that all sorts of new stories are popping into my head. Strange stories, not mainstream, but entirely wonderful. I wonder how many of them I unknowingly suppressed in the past, some part of me realizing that no publisher would ever want them. But that publisher? For me, he has ceased to exist.