When something’s done, I’ll go, “Okay, cool,” and I’ll shelve it, and I’ll rejoice that the damn thing is done and my desktop is empty so I can fill it with the next project. I’m a shipbuilder. I don’t want to sail in them. I want you to sail in them. I’m just happy that they leave the harbor so I can have an empty workplace. And the glee of getting the component parts and starting from scratch starts all over again, and we build the next ark.
Emphasis mine. Couldn't agree with this more myself.
Rollins was always a model and an inspiration, right from when I first encountered his description of himself — that he was "just pretentious enough" to put his work out there on his own for whatever audience might be waiting for it. That gave me permission to go and do things and not worry too much about whether or not anyone would care. Doing something earnestly is why you do anything at all; if it isn't, then ask yourself why the hell you're bothering.
Another thing I got from Henry is a sense of how to do things that are entirely yours. Sometimes I poke through the shelves at bookstores, or flip through Amazon, or look at what people I know are reading and Goodreads, and I say to myself, so much of this stuff just feels … I don't know, like it comes from some giant book factory out there. Generic. Not the product of someone who can't help but speak in his or her own voice. Individual voices do exist, and they're worth cherishing, but for the most part the books that get published are echoes of ... well, other books. They're there to make readers feel comfortable that they're going to get something reasonably similar to something else they read in that vein, but not so similar that it becomes outright boring. I have never wanted to satisfy those kinds of needs.
The hard part, though, is balancing that impulse — figuring out how to do right by your own voice without just crawling up your own ass and vanishing entirely. Writers who have a professional support structure — a publisher, an editor — have plenty of feedback and market research to keep them from disappearing into those kinds of self-indulgent sand traps. But indies and self-pubbers have no such safeties. They have to be doubly vigilant against their own worst instincts.
It's one thing to not feel constrained about what expectations the rest of the world might have about your work, and another thing to be contemptuous of the idea that such expectations might exist for a reason.
If you're wondering what work of mine I'm talking about, check out my (new!) novel Welcome To The Fold, and showing your support for it by registering at Inkshares and adding the book to your "Follow" list! Failing that, you can always buy one of my existing books, available on Amazon Kindle and in dead-tree format.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind