Greetings, peeperas y peeperos!
I hope this past weekend was awesome for you.
Me, I’ve been having deep thoughts all over the place, like these over at Women and Words.
And the ones I’ll be revealing here. Don’t freak out when you start reading. Read the whole thing. There’s an HEA.
A very few of you know that I’ve been in the midst of a major re-thinking about what I’m doing with this writing thing. Part of it is probably burnout, because I work a day job in addition to all the work I put into writing and editing and the side projects that are part of professional writing. I recognize that.
The other part is perhaps regret that I didn’t start writing earlier, when I was younger and could’ve perhaps made it more of a career. Which may not be entirely realistic because back in the day when I was younger and dinosaurs roamed the earth, there simply weren’t the publishing options available now and given that I write fiction with LGBTQ characters, it would’ve been hard to find a platform.
The downside to how easy it is now to publish is that there is so.much.competition for an audience. Not that I’m all, “OMG GET OUT OF MY WAY!” The old system, I think, needed to change in some ways and there are some really great books now that are readily available, though perhaps that came at the cost of bookstores and the community-building that came with meeting people in real-life in a bricks-and-mortar structure.
But with the ease of publishing comes books pouring out the yin-yang, and a glut for readers who have to make choices about which authors they’re going to spend their money on.
I get that, folks. I really do. But with the advance of technology (like, every freaking day), it’s that much harder for some of us in this business to keep up with the next big thing to ensure our work remains on people’s radar (I touched on that HERE). And for those of us who have to work a day job, it’s that much harder to keep up.
So I had a crisis of faith — one that’s been building for about a year. I toyed with the idea of leaving publishing, because the pressure to market market market with every single new tech toy out there is wearing me down, especially since I took 6 of my books off the market and I’m struggling to get those back on, all while I’m writing new things and pushing to promote those new things and balance all of that with a day job that requires a lot of travel.
I guess all of that is kind of hard, and I guess it got to me.
How much easier, I thought, it would be to just stop publishing.
I thought about that, about not publishing anymore and maybe also not writing anymore.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’d miss the writing part way too much.
What about the publishing part?
I’d probably miss it on some level. I’ve met the most amazing people through the publishing I’ve done, and I’d miss that. I’d miss the networking, the conferences, the fun I have with writing colleagues and readers.
So I thought, then, about WHY I publish.
I couldn’t readily answer. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve made some decent money through my writing (all of which goes into a savings account for the future, though it has paid some bills and taken care of some things that came up).
Why am I publishing? The money I get isn’t enough to live on, unless I rented a studio apartment somewhere in a really cheap town or city and even then, I wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance or travel to conferences. Pirates take another chunk out of my royalties in this brave new world. I’ve lost thousands of dollars to pirates over the years, which bums me out, but I don’t want to dwell on that.
So I confided to a few people that I was having this crisis, and that I’d lost sight of why I decided to try to publish in the first place, which was to tell stories and hope that somewhere along the way, they’d resonate with someone and in some way, add another link in our now international community. I figured publishing would give me a bigger platform to do that, to participate to a greater extent in community and maybe, just maybe, something I write will help someone somehow.
I wanted to make a difference, but I needed to get back to that. I’d lost sight of it, and instead got caught up in the market market market aspect of publishing. I felt like somehow I was losing my soul, and I needed to really think about that.
And sometimes — every once in a while — I get a note from someone who says she read something I wrote and it really resonated with her and she can’t stop thinking about it, and thank you. They make my day, notes like that. I always respond, because it humbles me, when that happens and it reminds me of why I started doing this, and I want the person to know that I got their note, that I appreciate it, and thank you right back for taking the time out of your busy day to contact me.
They mean a lot, notes like that.
At any rate, I’ve come into 2016 still wondering why I’m writing and why I’m publishing, and I’ve been trying to re-evaluate and focus on the original reasons I got into this gig and stop thinking about all the competition out there in the glutted market. It makes me feel better to do that, makes me want to write.
And then something amazing happened a couple of days ago.
I got an email from someone who went to my website and used the “contact” link to send me a message. She wanted to tell me how much she enjoyed my work, that she was a fan and that I had many fans like her where she was writing from.
I had to re-read that note several times. People read my work in Russia? How does that even happen?
Russia. Where things are really horrible right now for LGBTQ people. Where reading my work is practically illegal. But she’s doing it anyway, and she knows others who are doing it, too.
She told me her three favorite titles of mine, and she asked me if it was possible to get my autograph.
Of course it’s possible, I told her. I will make it happen, because it’s important to you, to me, and to creating community. Damn right I’ll make this happen. And if the postcards don’t make it through right away, well, I’ll find another way.
So I’m going to send her some signed postcards, each with the cover of her favorite works of mine — all of which I officially published.
She might not have found them if I hadn’t.
And right there, my question was answered: that’s why I write, and that’s why I publish.
It took a note from a stranger on the other side of the world to remind me, coming at just the time I needed it most.
From Russia with love, indeed.
Happy Monday, happy reading, happy writing. And may you all find what moves you to follow your passion.