Ah the bandwagon, that gloriously wonderful place to be. Toot your horns and play your trombones ‘cause the circus is coming to town. Add some razzmatazz (God, I love that word) to the mix, some decorations and away we go!
Back in the day, the bandwagon paraded through the streets when the circus came to town. The purpose was to attract the public, peak their interest, and drum up a little business. I mean, it was the circus, how often did it come to town? Of course there were never any circus’ coming through good old E. Dalhousie, and certainly no bandwagons, at least in that sense of the word.
In the late 19th century, politicians picked up on this form of attracting a crowd and began using bandwagons when campaigning for office. (I googled all this because I really wasn’t sure where the term bandwagon originated.)
Today, we speak about someone jumping on the bandwagon we generally mean they want in on what’s trendy, because let’s face it, trendy means popular and who doesn’t enjoy popularity?
We hear about trends in book publishing, and what’s hot at the moment. Hot means books sales, and books sales means well:
Book sales + Popularity = Every author’s dream.
Back when I was a fledgling writer with no real direction, no clear idea of style or voice, just an urge to express myself with words, back when I was furiously trying to figure it out, figure me out, figure the world out, while figuring my kids out, I thought the bandwagon was the place to be. It was fun, it was popular, there was razzmatazz. Not only that, if I wanted to catch a publisher’s eye I had to give them what they wanted and sure as heck they wanted trendy.
I tried writing what I thought would get me published. The problem was, what I thought would get me published had nothing to do with being true to who I was as a writer and as a person. Now, don’t get me wrong, if trendy is who you are through and through, and is not simply coming from your need to write what will sell, then you’re on the right path.
I wasn’t. Not in the beginning. I couldn’t even see the path because I wasn’t even looking in the right place.
So I was a baby taking baby steps along with my two year old at the time. I was trying to find my way in the dark, with no guidance and no helping hand. I made wild stabs in the dark, first this way, then that. It’s called life, and we all make our share of wild, uncontrolled stabs in the dark while trying to find our way.
My first steps were wobbly. Not only that, I was as clumsy as elephant. I saw where I wanted to be and I headed straight for it, crushing everything in my path. I thought I was going to get the peanut that way, and boy, was I mistaken.
But don’t cry for me and don’t feel sorry. We all travel the path that is meant for us. Some of us tread lightly, others stomp our way through.
I’ve always been stubborn and independent, always figured I had to discover these things for myself. It’s not that I didn’t want the help of others, there just were no “others” out there to offer it. The path looked mighty deserted. Not to mention that, in the beginning, I was on a secret mission. But secret mission or not, in the very beginning, I climbed up on that bandwagon for a spell. Trendy look pretty good from where I was standing. In fact it looked about right. It was going to get me published.
I would never advise anyone starting out to follow my footsteps. Our footsteps are unique, the path we choose is the one we need to travel. We need to make our own mistakes and find our own way.
The moment I read that we should write what we know, an idea came to me. I knew what I could write about. I was a bit nervous. Up until then I’d been writing what I didn’t know because I just didn’t know any different. And then my first story was published and I felt immediate joy. I had found the path that was right for me.
Would the path lead me to popularity? Would publishers immediately snap up every morsel I wrote, eager to get my words in print?
What do you think?
But I had learned a valuable lesson.
I learned to stop looking over my shoulder. I learned to write the story that was uniquely mine. I found the path that was meant for my footprints. And this is where I want to be, this is where I have found publication.
So have you ever climbed up on the bandwagon? If you have was it the right place to be?