Tuesday, June 17, 2014

There are times I just want to scream

It’s tough being a writer. If you’ve hung around Type M for any amount of time, you know that.

Beyond all the time spent (basically on spec these days since most advances against royalties have gotten laughably low) producing a manuscript, the self-doubt, the issues of trying to squeeze in the necessary time to write, etc., etc. all take their toll on our work and our lives. With the major paradigm shifts in the publishing world, writers also have to now carry a huge promotional load than they did in the past. Support is minimal, expectations on the author’s promotional skills are high. It’s now to the point that unless you’re prepared to put in the extra hours needed to become a successful author, your publisher will be forced to drop you. Whenever I explain to people just what an “author’s life” really involves, the comment I always get is, “Then why the hell do you do it?”

Why the hell indeed! I generally shrug and answer, “I enjoy writing. I have to do it.”

Many think I’m delusional, to put it kindly.

Now, to be truthful, there is also the element of “next book will become a huge bestseller and my career path will be set”. Come on. Admit it. If you write, isn’t there always just a teeny bit of that in the back of your mind? Reality is, many are called but few are chosen.

However, the inescapable fact is that I enjoy storytelling immensely. You could ask my mom and dad – were they still around. I polished my craft as a child in attempting to get out of sticky situations. As I said in an earlier post sometime in the past year: they called it lying. Isn’t that what we do, though? There is an element of lying in all fiction – especially in crime writing, and we all start young.

Yesterday, I was supposed to be designing an outer envelope for a client’s direct mail package. It takes some pretty serious creative headspace to do that. I’m trying to get this out the door ASAP, and then the publishing industry came calling.

I’m not complaining here, believe me, since the interruption concerned trying to get the release date of Roses for a Diva moved up from it’s mid-November appearance. That close to Christmas, the book probably wouldn’t be in the stores for holiday gift-giving, I couldn’t do many signings because the big chain up here in Canada, Chapters/Indigo, doesn’t want authors underfoot in the run-up to December 25th. What that all meant was the book wouldn’t get much promotion from me until January – not a great time to promote any title, as well as being six weeks after the novel’s release date. We all know how long stores these days keep poor-selling books on their shelves. A recipe for failure, right?

So this was important stuff that had to be dealt with immediately. Here I am with a half-designed envelope on my computer’s desktop and emails flying everywhere. I had to talk to this person, respond to various emails and have enough creative energy left to see the envelope through to completion. Mentally, I could see myself as an inept juggler trying to keep more and more balls up in the air.

Oh, did I mention I also had to try to squeeze in organizing a recording session for the band I’m starting up?

If I had the cash, I would have run to the airport to buy a ticket to somewhere quiet where I could regroup and sort out everything that’s going on.

Realistically, everyone has days like that. Today looks as if it’s not going to be much better. I just have to get through it as I did yesterday, to move everything along incrementally so as to keep it all under control, even if that means I’m not doing my best on anything.

And all the time, unfortunately pushed to the background, I hear the siren song of the new novel I’m working on and desperately want to get back to.

That’s the reason I put up with all of this.

By the way, the release date for Roses has just been moved up to October 15th. Thank you, Jim Hatch!


Donis Casey said...

I too wonder why in the hell I put myself through it. But like you I love the storytelling. If only I didn't care whether anyone read the stories or not I'd probably be a happier person. Poor and unknown, but not as neurotic.

Rick Blechta said...

I hear you. Maybe there's a support group for people like us!