Keith Telfeyan

Jul 11, 2020

3 min read

Returning to Writing

It’s not like I stopped writing. But after finishing the 5th draft of my novel, I sort of lost momentum. It wasn’t exactly writer’s block — more like disillusion, or just basic discouragement. I couldn’t get that book published (for a variety of reasons, mostly political and structural) and had a hard time adjusting to short-form writing again. And I didn’t see an immediate benefit to sharing my words on platforms like this, where it just gets swept under the rug, lost in a sea of infinite content.

Mostly I’ve just been journaling, writing my words at I would also engage in little projects — product reviews, top 10 lists — I just didn’t know where to put them. I started my own online magazine (a blog, let’s be honest), with an emphasis on travel. Then it felt like everything had to be about that one topic. But my writing remained diverse, encompassing a myriad of topics.

I own a few domain names. It’s very difficult to know how to brand oneself, how to carve out a distinct place in the world. I still own my actual name as a domain, but coming from art school, I always considered that my visual art portfolio. (And it’s been a challenge to set up a print shop there — adding my writing to it has felt muddled, too much somehow.)

Basically, I just have a problem knowing where to put things. I had originally decided that this website — Medium .com — was the appropriate place for all my random writing. But when I started publishing with more exciting online magazines, I sort of stopped. And then I stopped publishing anywhere else as well (for personal reasons like self-doubt, confusion, money issues, anxiety…).

Lots of publishers and platforms have an exclusivity rule: they won’t publish anything that’s been published somewhere else. This counts, even if literally just two people see it. I think it’s a really strange rule; it’s frozen me into a position of not sharing anything in case I do want to share it with a specific place. Documents and ideas pile up on my hard drive, unread, invisible — do they even exist? But if I keep them online — here or on my own blog — suddenly they’re “out there”, technically, but without much of a readership.

It’s very hard to be a writer. Not because the actual writing is hard — that part is easy (if you really are a writer, anyway; it happens naturally). But because the world of publishing — finding eyeballs and holding attention, and directing your work toward those who want to see it — is all so overwhelming, difficult to navigate.

I think I’ll just commit to sharing things here again, for now anyway, maybe learn how to embed these articles on my own blog somehow, so that they don’t exist in multiple places (a no-no in the online marketplace). I have to learn to take some pressure off myself, to relax and not worry about where things belong, about how to best tailor my work for journals and magazines I might actually aspire toward. That part just freezes me, makes me inactive. And being inactive is depressing.