by author/poet Marc Lacy
If you are a self-published poet, or an aspiring poet considering going that route for your first publication, I’m sure you’ve just about heard it all by now. “Poetry doesn’t sell.” “You’re better off writing a novel.” “You will not be accepted as a legitimate writer while writing poetry.”
Well, I know I have. People have been on my back since day one with regards to publishing something other than poetry. I mean I’ve had some knockdown drag outs about what “I” should do with “my” career. I’ve listened to just about everything people have to say. I take everything with a grain of salt. People are entitled to their opinion. It is what it is…and what it is, is “their opinion.” But, in processing all of the opinions, I realized how valuable their takes were and still are about writing and publishing.
Although I have produced works in other genres, I’m currently making a segue into the realm of fiction. Even though I have made my mark as a poet, I certainly want to be known as a quality “writer” first. So why now Marc, especially since you’ve been such an ambassador for poetry and spokenword? I’ll tell you why. Throughout all of those years of getting hounded (respectfully) by literary enthusiasts, book clubs, fellow authors, friends, and family…there was a perception that my only goal throughout my entire literary career was to only publish poetry and produce spoken word cds. No one ever asked me what my future plans were? All along, I knew I would someday take the fiction leap of faith; but I did not know exactly when. So why now? Well, if I’m going to make a transition, it is going to be at my own pace and on my own time. I humbly refuse to let another dictate how and where I should throw my passion’s weight around.
However, I’m no dummy. Remember…I “do” listen. I understand the reality of the situation. When people walk into a bookstore, the last thing they may say to themselves is, “Hmmmm, let me go to the poetry section.” Even if they convince themselves to do so, what makes me think my book is going to standout over a beautiful hard-covered Nikki Giovanni coffee table edition of a poetry collection? Yes, Nikki is the bomb. Or a nice volume of famous works by Edgar Allen Poe? Edgar was a poetical genius. Nothing wrong with having gumption, confidence or desire; but if you are a fish, compete with the best fish and do not try to fly with the fastest birds.
Be realistic in your goal-setting. In some areas, it’s okay to take the path of least resistance. If you are a pioneer and have visions of setting a trend, understand that you will be your own sacrificial lamb. In layman’s terms that means, you will go through more hardship before you realize any pleasure or relief. But, it is ultimately up to you. I do not want to be the one to deter someone from chasing dreams. We all have them.
As odd as it sounds, there needs to be some “reality” factored into our fantasies. Nothing wrong with learning to work smarter while pursuing goals. There is also nothing wrong with applying logic and truth to a creative vision and going forth.
WHY SHOULD YOU BE ENCOURAGED?
There are several reasons to be encouraged. So many that I do not have the real-estate to cover them in this blog, but I need you to know this: although people tend to purchase fiction and other genres at a way higher rate than they do poetry, if they see you perform or somehow hear your material, they will at least be attentive for that time period. Once you have them, you have them. So continue honing your craft of writing poetry and performing spoken word.
If poetry is your thing, then that is what it is, however, you can still retain these skills while going through a writing genre transition. Just think about it…if you are invited to present your material with a group of authors who write in other genres, depending on how your performance goes, you have the potential to stand out like no other. Why? Because you are performing your material and not necessarily just talking about it. If you stand out, then people are more apt to purchase your material; especially if you are the only one on the program performing or doing some sort of skit. Take full advantage of this opportunity should it arise. However, make sure you think about getting double the exposure by developing your writing skills in another genre.
Once you become acclimated to and sharp in another writing category, you will then have extra power in your literary engine to flex when it comes to publishing and presentation. By respecting all facets of the craft of writing, your game can be potentially stepped up more than you know.
WHY SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED ABOUT BECOMING A BETTER WRITER?
If you are published and have aspirations of continuing to publish, your main objective should not only be selling books; but becoming a better writer. Even if you a performing poet, you should still focus on becoming a better writer. People get into the game for a variety of reasons. Some people are not concerned for state of being of the craft of writing as they are about making a dollar from selling a book. If you are passionate about any genre, then you should be just as passionate about improving your writing. Be encouraged to constantly digest and embody the change you are trying to make.
If you are a poet or spoken word artist; continue being the best you can be; but also be encouraged to know that your talents are appreciated. Being that such is the case, why not take your writing to the next level by delving into another genre while still maintaining your skills in the realm of poetry/spoken word? I’d like to leave you with this thought: If you develop your writing in another genre, publish books to the effect, that fact alone may bring more attention to your poetry than that which was gained when you wrote only in that genre to begin with.
About the Author
Marc is the contributor to many anthologies such as: The Soul of a Man, Step up to The Mic, and Witness the Truth. Marc is a member of ArtNSoul Society of Expression, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Church Street CPCA, Huntsville Literary Association, and National Society of Black Engineers. He credits his faith in God and love of family for providing energy to succeed. Checkout his latest fiction book, Wretched Saints - When the Righteous Path Leads to Hell's Doorstep at: http://www.marclacy.com/ , www.myspace.com/mlacy , and www.facebook.com/marclacy
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