A Worthless Coin

I have often felt that “Writers’ Conferences” ought to be called “Publishing Conferences,” for it is the question of how and where one publishes that drives the classes and fill the halls with hopeful authors. Even courses on craft exist to improve the author’s odds of publication. If Writers’ Conferences were really just for writers they would draw as many devoted diarists as suspense authors. But when we talk about publication, we’re really talking about rejection. If publishers and agents never said “no” there would hardly be a need for Writers’ Conferences. Even self-publishing, which skirts those men and women whom writers come to see as gatekeepers, remains haunted by the question of how, how, how to get more readers to say yes.

But when we talk about publication we’re talking about success, and when we talk about success, we’re really talking about failure. When we talk about success and failure we are usually referring to events occurring outside of ourselves (like another person saying yes or no) that somehow prove our value. In this way, success and failure become merely two sides of the exact same coin. And it doesn’t matter whether the coin flips to a yes or a no; you have already lost this game by choosing to play it.

Coins are funny anyway. They only have value because we say they do. We decided that a quarter was worth more than a penny. In truth, the quarter and the penny are worth exactly the same – nothing. We created the myth of failure so that we could enjoy the myth of success. The only true success is the understanding that failure doesn’t exist. Now there is nothing to fight against, now there is nothing to fear, now there is nothing to suffer, and the game is won.

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