February 18, 2016
I wrote my first book at the age of six. With a few sheets of computer paper and carefully crafted stick figures, I composed a tale told in 10 pages – a story of best friends torn apart, then quickly and painlessly reunited.
My head start in authorship led to the production of more stories, which increased in both length and quality over time. The stick figures were removed, the copy broadened, the plots thickened to eventually become short- and long-form works of fiction with character development and feeling. With a few works under my belt, the next question was where and how to get my writing published.
I was an ambitious middle-schooler. This ambition led me down a rabbit hole of research. From query letters to literary agents, unsolicited manuscripts to submission guidelines, I found myself knee-deep in terms I didn’t quite understand and instructions I definitely didn’t know how to complete. For a moment, my ambition was crushed.
But as many of us know, times are changing.
The New York Times recently published a story called “Web Poets’ Society: New Breed Succeeds in Taking Verse Viral” that talks about the rise of independent poets on Instagram. If you’ve ever searched for poetry on this social platform, you’ll find a wide world of creative material. Major players like Robert M. Drake or Tyler Knott Gregson have taken their online fame to the next level, becoming best-selling poets offline and in-store.
According to the article, Instapoets “could reshape the lingering perception of poetry as a creative medium in decline.”
The accessibility of self-publication has been shaking up the publishing industry for quite some time. According to an article from The Guardian titled “Self-publishing: is it killing the mainstream?” indie authors have been dominating the digital marketplace for the past three years. The freedom to market and price your own books opens up doors previously shut by major publishing houses.
And suddenly, my quietly crushed middle-school ambition is back with a vengeance.
A couple of months ago, I decided to start my own poetry Instagram account. With a mere 11 posts, it’s far from developed, but the intent remains: to regularly share my poems online.
So maybe that’s the goal. I don’t expect to take off as the next R.M. Drake, but maybe that’s not the point. I have always loved creative writing; I assume I always will. The goal isn’t to become famous — the goal is to put my writing out there. And now I have a platform to do that. Instagram hosts a multitude of creative content, and this is just one more way for social sharing to impact my life.
Follow me @sjmannpoetry for the occasional poem.