Happy Independence Day, American friends! This is the weekend that we celebrate the courage, beauty and stubbornness of our great nation. Speaking of courage and stubbornness, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what creative freedom means.
When you take a leap of faith (and finances or fundraising) to start your own literary project, be it an online literary journal, a graphic novel, the novel our heart has been writing for twenty years, or a small press, you declare your creative independence. When you sign with a small press or self-publish, you’re declaring that creative independence and connection to the creative process is your priority. More than the security of a big publisher that will make all the creative decisions for you.
Make no mistake, when I started Spider Road Press, all this creative independence felt overwhelming. Wow, if I risk the funds, I have the freedom to make risky decisions. Bleep-I have all these risky decision to make! What if I make mistakes? And I made a few. Because every one who risks does. That’s how you learn.
I have found the cost of creative independence, the financial gambles, the fundraising, the late nights when chamomile tea and melatonin can’t quiet the voice that the manuscript needs just one more edit, is, eventually, worth it. I have published good pieces by skilled authors that other publishers rejected because the fiction was “too dark,” or “too experimental.” Readers enjoyed them. In a special flash fiction bonus section to Spider Road’s upcoming collection, Approaching Footsteps, I am including a piece of my own flash fiction, “Kit-Cat Clock,.” It feels like a creative gamble. A fictional piece about the rape of a small business owner, inspired by someone I once met, the piece has been called both “disturbing” and “realistic.” I’m exercising my independence and including it anyway.
I wish you a lovely holiday. It is my adoptive son’s first American Independence Day, and he will be looking at flags and parades and the fireworks he associates with other holidays. My creative independence means that while I take time off to celebrate with the most important person in my life, editing and publishing work sits undone. Independence means you have to do it yourself.
Yet what an amazing feeling it is when you hold the final book in your hand (yes, I still love the feel of a paperback or hardback in my hands and that wonderful new paper smell)! This book, this world of stories, was birthed with the blood, sweat and caffeine of you and your team. That’s pride. That’s reward. That’s independence.