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This Writing Life: We Work Harder

24 July, 2012

I want to start off this post by sharing a music video. Go on, have a look (the video is a little strange, I admit, but the song is great).



For anyone who didn’t want to watch, here are the lyrics that always grab my attention:

As these are hard times
We’ll work harder, harder
Through these hard times
I’ll work harder, harder

This particular chorus always grabs me, every time I hear it. Why? Because it feels, every time, like something of a battle cry, a call to arms for those of us who are struggling on through life, and particularly those of us who have chosen to try to make their way in creative industries.

After all, this is not a good time to be creative, we keep being told. Most of the western world is in a recession – even a depression. There are not enough jobs to go round, not enough homes to go round, not enough money to go round. And, if you’re a writer, you don’t need to read publishing blogs for long to be saddled with even more bad news. The publishing industry is dying! No wait, it’s already dead! There’s no money in self-publishing! Agents aren’t looking for new clients! Publishers don’t want new authors! And even if you do find an agent, even if you get published, there’s no money anyway, so you’d better be prepared to work for peanuts.

Ok, a lot of this is exaggeration and scare-mongering, though there’s of course a grain of truth in each of these statements. Even if you’re being positive, it’s clear that plenty of publishers are becoming more risk averse, plenty of agents are overburdened with too many submissions, and making any money out of writing at all – be it traditionally or self-published – is becoming increasingly difficult.

Here though, is where we come back to that song. ‘These are hard times’ it declares – they certainly are. But it’s not enough to just acknowledge that fact and let it run us down. Instead, we can only do as Patrick Wolf suggests: we’ll work harder.

Call it a battle cry, or just call it good old common sense, but looking at the state of the publishing industry – of the world – and despairing is no use to anyone. We need to write more, hone our work, pursue as many avenues of publication as possible. And if things get even worse, as there’s no guarantee they won’t? Well, I know what I’ll be doing. I hope you’ll join me.
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