I sometimes get disappointed when something I produce doesn’t get much of a reception. You hope that a project is worthwhile and that somebody somewhere is getting something out of it, and as much as I look for some intrinsic merit to the things I do, I am still sometimes left wondering.
But what if no one caring was actually a good thing?
In the last week I’ve heard two writers explore this issue on separate podcasts. I Should Be Writing’s Mur Lafferty explores the freedom to be found in this condition, while Seth Godin points out that the cost of failing has fallen to nothing at all.
Mur Lafferty on Amateur Writing: Good Parts and Bad:
Being interviewed on podcasts, I mention one thing I love about podcast fiction is I can write whatever the hell I want. Whatever I want. And I can give it to my listeners and they can listen or not. I can write zombie humour audio dramas. I can write a series of novellas about mythology and the afterlife. I can write about superheroes. I could turn around and write chicklit tomorrow. I could write mysteries. I mean, no one is going to pigeonhole me. I can write whatever I want to. And that, I realise is not only the Internet, but it’s also just I am so new that no one cares!
You know, I’ve talked about not caring before, the fact that no one cares that you’re a writer and how that can be a wonderful thing. Because when no one cares you can do whatever you want. They’re not noticing you, they’re not judging you. And if they do notice, then someone cares – and that’s good. But on the other hand, you might be kinda getting yourself into the hole where you’ll be for the rest of your career.
But your freedom is no one is telling you you can’t. And I think, newbies and wannabes – all of us amateurs – we don’t recognize and appreciate that more often. We don’t say, “You know what, it’s fantastic that no one gives a crap about what I write. I can write whatever I want!”
Seth Godin talking to Merlin Mann on 43 Folders:
The cost of failing has dropped by faster than the cost of a chip. You know, my Dad owns a factory in Buffalo, New York, that bends steel and makes hospital cribs and has union organized labor. The cost of getting that factory was really high and if he screws up it’s going to be really expensive. The cost of getting a blog is $12 and if you screw up no one’s going to notice because they weren’t reading in the first place. What we’ve discovered in the last ten years is that it’s easier than ever to record an album, to treat a customer with respect, to put a new idea out there, to write a book and publish it for free. All these things cost almost nothing and the lizard brain hasn’t caught up to that yet. The lizard brain doesn’t realize that the cost of failure is not that a sabre tooth tiger eats you, but that the cost of failure is nothing. So what 43 Folders people ought to do, I think, is do something that people will ridicule, do something where you will fail, do something that’s a little bit nutty and see what happens. Because the worst thing that will happen is that you’ll fail and no one will notice.