A Bowl of Cherries Vs. Sucking Beetroot
Greetings, Precious Readers.
As most of you know, I’ve had a rather eventful few years. Yes, i found the love of my life, and we are now happily engaged to be married. But getting to this point was a path strewn with rocks and blocks and sharp pointy things, and quicksand and befanged beasts, attacking from all sides.
Okay, that might have been a tad melodramatic.
But it’s been really challenging. It’s harder than it seems to leave everything behind and start from scratch in another country when you don’t even like to leave the house, and you’re also an HSP (use the tag cloud to see other blogs if you don’t know what that is).
All that’s happened in my personal life has made me a little bit challenged in my writing. Okay, a lot challenged. I seem to be suffering some species of writer’s block. I can say that, even though I’ve written 8 novels and 3 anthologies in those two years. Many of my writing colleagues, (and my fiancee) therefore, laugh when I say I’m having trouble writing.
I’m also aware that I spent years scoffing at Writer’s Block as a legit condition. So this just might be the universe stabbing me with my own pen.
Perhaps “Writer’s Block” is just a catch-all phrase, that has been reduced to meaningless cliché from overuse, and there’s a better way to characterize it. Author Angst?
What I mean by it, is that I’ve struggled to get words on the page, more than I normally would. I WANT to write, I NEED to write, I’m ANXIOUS each day to write, but then I spend far too much time staring at the page, and an inordinate amount of brainpower to access the words in my head, and figure out the intricacies of whichever plot I’m devising. It often feels like half my brain is shut down. Some of that is probably the accumulation of stress over the past 5 years or so. Some of it was likely being without my T3 thyroid meds for a long time, and part might be just (gulp) part of the aging process. To me, one of the most terrifying things is losing my cognitive abilities. (A close second to losing my vision).
I’ve always used a certain methodology for writing, and in the last two years, I have been questioning it as a viable way to continue, since things change and you have to sometimes change with it. It doesn’t seem to be working anymore. So I have been experimenting with other ways of getting a book written, and I don’t think I’ve settled yet, on what that will be.
Then there’s the business of writing. I have been listening to the Self-Publishing Podcast, and reading books by those guys (Johnny B. Truant, Shawn Platt and David Wright). I’ve begun implementing the strategies shared in their book Write.Publish.Repeat. I’m excited about all that.
The Indie publishing environment has been changing frequently and in major ways. Electronic publishing has turned traditional publishing on its ear, and things will never be the same again. Sometimes that’s an outstandingly good thing, and sometimes it sucks beetroot. I strive for the bowl of cherries, nonetheless.
It’s good, in that I have control over my career, and don’t answer to anyone. I can hear feedback from readers, rather than be stuck in a dark room with everyone else outside, while I wonder if my books are being read, and what they think of them. As an Indie author and publisher, I can produce my books the way I see fit, and make 70% royalties, instead of the usual 15%. I can write a book and get it into print digitally right away, and within weeks, in print. I can write about what I want, how I want, without being forced into a box, or cornered by market expectations or the flavor of the day.
But the downside is that it means I have to do the work of 5 or 10 people. That has a way of sucking the energy needed to do the actual writing. Sometimes just accomplishing one thing takes hours or days and causes a truckload of frustration.
Just like the last few days. I have been frustrated with Photoshop Elements, and spent 13 hours day before yesterday, just trying to find software to do professional 3D box-set covers and rejected all of them; finally I just went back to my Gimp program I used years ago, and got the box-set for AKA Investigations done, from scratch. The learning curve took a little patience, because I hadn’t used that program in so long, and it can get pretty technical to design things like this. It’s harder than it looks, especially since it’s not a 2D, flat image.
Another downside is that authors can no longer compete if they are reclusive and don’t market themselves. I don’t like the marketing at all, but it comes with the territory.
Another negative is that because publishing is so easy, everyone is doing it, even if they’re not qualified. And that mucks up the road for the rest of us. While I am fortunate to have a set of intelligent, discerning readers, my work is available to anyone. In an upcoming blog, I will share an example of that, in relation to my book, Rain Falls.
Anyway, contrary to popular belief, good book sales don’t always equate to good writing. Add to that the very real problem of average intelligence (at least in the U.S.) and you end up with easily-pleased readers who don’t expect much to be happy, and they support writers who aren’t that good at the craft. That also mucks it up for the rest of us, who are striving to perform at a professional level. But I could never switch to traditional publishing now. I turned down two contracts to do this, and I’ve never been sorry about that decision.
Overall, I think the huge changes in my life have knocked me off my groove. As I’ve said before, once things aren’t gelling as they used to, it’s time to look at the decisions made before and question whether those decisions still apply. Since so much has changed, I suppose my routines/habits/rituals/methods must also change. I’m still working that out, at this writing.
In the next post, I will share thoughts about my newest completed project, Pitfall. It should be available for purchase within the next week or two.
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