Monday Musings: Finding A Spot In The Sun

There are many days where I wonder if all the work I’ve put out in the past two years have been worth the time spent.  Writing novels has cost more than time, to be honest.  It’s cost money, it’s caused tensions with friends and family, and it hasn’t precisely made my life any easier.  Even with the writing done (for the immediate moment), the strain continues, though this time it is struggling to breakthrough to where there is even the slightest chance for someone to take notice of what I have accomplished.

How do you deal with being swallowed up by the darkness of so many other louder voices?  How do you continue slugging onward, hoping to be that one-in-a-million writer who actually manages to make a hardscrabble living on the power of your words alone?  It would certainly easier to give up on it, to take the satisfaction of the attempt made as reward enough.  I doubt anyone would blame me for it.

I can’t say I have answers for those questions.  I can see why many writers are crushed under the despair of their situation and simply give up.  For some reason, though I keenly feel that darkness rushing in, I can’t help but stubbornly throw another rock at the wall blocking out the sun, hoping to chip a hole through.  Every day, I tell myself, maybe this rock rolling around in my hands will be the one to bring the light in.

I’m probably deluding myself, I know.  The amount of books I would have to sell each month to make a living is staggering, if you do the math.  I think the inevitability is that I will be dragged down into the darkness, just like almost all the others.  Deprived of my creative outlet, these best years of my life will fade out into the sepia-toned pictures of nostalgia.

Until then, though, I am going to pitch another rock at the wall.

Next month, I’ll start writing my seventh novel.  Later this week, I’m going to finish setting up a Patreon system to hopefully gather more money for that process.  Maybe this next one will do it.

Good luck, good reading, good writing, and may you find your spot in the sun.

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6 comments

  1. Knowing that Writing is an Art, not a craft, makes a big difference. The craft misconception sets writers up for unrealistic expectations. We’re writing books, not weaving baskets or blankets. And authors have to accept that Art sells in a different way than do crafts.

    This does not mean that making money isn’t important, but that authors are going about it the wrong way. Now that we have desktop publishing, and POD outfits that will set up books for free, we are finally at liberty to join the same league as other independent artists. For example, painters and sculptors buy their supplies, create, and then sell their works, both individually, and through their own galleries and cooperatives. There’s no reason why Indie Authors can’t do the same, but they are unwilling to unite, the way other artists do, because most writers are still stuck with the mindset that they need to have somebody else sell their work, whether it’s a publishing house or A Certain Major Online Retailer.

    Authors are also afraid of competition. Other artists aren’t afraid of it. Competition is good: it creates a more noticeable marketplace, which attracts more potential customers. Did you know that’s also why gas stations do better when there’s another station on the other side of the street, and that’s why CVS prefers to build on the opposite corner to a Walgreens?

    Keep writing. Don’t give up and fade to sepia. Keep writing. Spread the word that Writing is an Art. Keep writing. Join with other Author Artists to promote and sell Written Art. And above all, keep on writing.

    1. Thanks for the pep talk! While I never intend to quit writing or struggling to keep moving higher (I have a big bag of rocks!), I felt I needed to get my darker musings into words, hence today’s Musings.

      You are totally spot on. Writing is art and we should always view it in that way!

  2. It’s all about perspective — and some simple math!

    Take the number of people who publish a single novel in their lifetime (let’s just use the US for metrics) and then narrow down those authors who actually publish electronic AND hard copy (even narrower) and THEN take those numbers and compare against the second, third and fourth books accordingly. (We could also do some more filtering by qualifying the number of words for the book as 65K or larger, but for now we’ll just include anything that qualifies as a book.)

    SO…. take this filter and then compare it against the US population (including drooling infants who can’t write yet) and then see where you stack up. James, I would bet casino money that you are in the top 5% for this metric, which means if you quit now, you’re already ahead of 95% of the mouth-breathing plebes out there.

    I think it’ pretty cool that I knew someone who has patience and discipline to knock out six, much less start on a seventh! If you ever feel out of sorts on your place in the universe, just remember that you are in the top 5% and no one can take that away from you.

  3. It’s tough, certainly. For me, the most dangerous part has been not just losing hope, but feeling contempt for your audience at large. It’s easy to nurse that kind of egotistical slight, you only need see which books are propelled to number one on Amazon Kindle, or even which dreadful titles are winning votes on Kindle Scout.

    To get past such negative drain, I just keep reminding myself that that audience is not my audience. Of course, such pragmatism only works about 50% of the time!

    I think this is why I eventually turned to writing a kind of comedy. I needed to get back that sensation of ‘play’ that I used to feel when writing, as approaching it with dire seriousness had just about killed all my love for the work.

    It’s a gossamer fine thing to maintain a mix of ego and reality, but you really do need a hard-headed belief in your writing to survive trying to market it. To survive things like a reader not blinking at paying £2 for a cup of coffee, then decrying your book for charging the same and not being ‘long enough.’

    I think the e-book revolution is somewhat of a smokescreen tbh, and that writers have never been less valued then they are right now. All of a sudden there’s too many of us, and it’s not like those who’ve spent 10+ years practising the art get a special certificate that we can wave around. You’re treated just the same as the guy who decided last week that he wanted to be a writer. And he’s the one that people think of when they think ‘self-publishing.’

    I think you have the right attitude. Dylan Thomas’ line of ‘Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light,’ is on the wall next to my monitor to inspire me to the same mindset. We all started writing, in one way or another, because we wanted to be heard. If you keep talking, if you make your efforts ceaseless and unfailing, then nobody can ignore you forever.

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