The first last good idea I’ll ever have

Scenes from Snowmageddon 2011

Today was my first snow day since high school. Despite the semi-apocalyptic storm that battered Chicago and most of the Midwest, as people were digging out today, they were remarkably cheerful. I hope most of them had good days: I sure did. I slept in and took pictures and mooched around and romped in the snow. Granted, I also had plans of being productive. I have stories to plan, essays to write, novels to organize, sketches to draw. Instead, I romped in the snow.

I consider this a fair trade. But I’m also cognizant of the fact that while the nonfiction part of this blog has been fairly easy for me, the creative part has been like pulling teeth. I second-guess myself like crazy. There is stuff happening — you guys just don’t see it. But one good thing did come out of my mindless web-surfing and lazing about today. In the course of trying to figure out what the publishing implications of a project like this would be, I found someone else’s old post wrestling with a very similar thing. I’d been trying to remember the thing about first publishing rights for a while now, but it was a comment to the post that really caught my eye:

People who worry overmuch about piracy sometimes reveal a fear that their genius is finite, like “I mustn’t let that be stolen in case it’s the last good idea I ever have”. What can happen is that the acceptance of early work – even if it is no more than acceptance by plagiarising and theft – is so encouraging that it fosters feedback and releases a whole lot more ideas. Rejection by publishers is such a downer that it has snuffed out many writers, but a positive response from even a stolen copy of your work may inspire a whole new writing impulse. And you, Sarah, have a lot more to give the world.

What a lovely thing to hear, and truly, just as I needed to hear it. (My own paranoia isn’t about losing money or losing out on contracts, specifically, but I am nervous about being taken advantage of, which is about as useful a worry as any other irrational or unanswerable worry. As with improv, the internet is not kind to control freaks.) Slowly but surely, self. Thanks, Lionel. And readers, stay tuned. Thanks for your attention: we’re back to your regularly scheduled programming soon.

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