Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I've Got the Blues

If it’s Wednesday, it must be Debby, and I am in a bit of a slump. Though I recently trumpeted my relief at being a crime fiction writer as opposed to a pill counter, I’m a bit blue today. Maybe it’s the memoir topic, and the appalling facts that not only did S.P. receive a million-plus advance for the ghost-authored Going Rogue, her tour is getting the hype of a political campaign (a REALLY depressing thought).

I thought it was just my own low biorhythms—maybe I’m catching a cold—until I ran across Declan Burke’s blog on http://crimealwayspays.blogspot.com/2009/11/woe-is-me-etc-failing-writer-writes.html. Burke is a journalist and author of EIGHTBALL BOOGIE and THE BIG O, and has two more books under consideration by publishers. Not bad, I think, but here’s what he has to say, and I can relate.

“… lately I’ve started to hear a little voice in the back of my head suggesting that it might not be the best thing for me right now were either book to be published. That’s because, barring a miracle, what will happen is this: an offer will be made that will amount, in practical terms, to no more than a couple of months’ worth of mortgage payments. Following acceptance, edits and rewrites will follow (a good thing, by the way, because I like both stories and their characters, and I wouldn’t mind at all getting back into the stories, especially if doing so is going to improve them). Then the pre-publication promotion will begin, which is very time-consuming; then the publication promotion; and then the post-publication promotion. Most of this will be conducted via the web, given that I am (a) not wealthy enough nor remunerated enough to do it in person; (b) married with a small child, of whom I don’t see enough of as it is; (c) a freelance journalist who works a minimum of 70 hours per week at the job, and can’t afford to take time off, let alone spend good mortgage money on hauling my ass around the world at a time when house repossessions are starting to climb at an alarming rate back home.

“It really is becoming as stark as that. I decided over the weekend, after interviewing James Ellroy, that it is actually immoral of me to steal time to write fiction when I could be writing freelance material that will actually earn real money.”

Another oft-published author believes the future of publishing will be in the self-published book, or small press book. She may be right, and perhaps this isn’t a bad thing. But like Declan also says, “Someone who liked my books asked me over the weekend, rather facetiously, how come I haven’t sold a million books. I said, rather facetiously, that it was because no one put a million dollars worth of advertising behind them.” Like Declan, I couldn’t pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into publishing and publicizing my book.

I spent a hefty percentage of a royalty check on the book tour Vicki and I did together last March. At the same time, my husband and I are paying two college tuitions. I can beat my chest and bemoan the economy, big advances for people who haven’t written their own books, and the poor remuneration of all artists in this country. No matter. The hard, cold facts are that bills need to be paid. I have a part-time job in addition to my writing, but I’m considering increasing the hours per week, which means that I’ll have less time to write. That makes me sad.

Someone tell me things will change, a living can be made writing crime fiction. Please?

Meanwhile, I’m going to bury my sorrows in the thriller I’m writing now. It’s heating up, and I can’t wait to get back to it.

5 comments:

Kay Richardson said...

Have you tried Ketamin? It makes you feel mental, but it might stop the blues. I thought that I was an advent calendar whilst on it the other day. And very happy I was too.

Donis Casey said...

Thanks for the cheery Thanksgiving pick-me-up, Debby. I've just been trying to figure out if there's any way I can afford to go to Malice this year and pay off all of Don's medical bills. You can guess the answer. p.s. I hope your son is better. Worrying about him can't be good for your outlook, right now.

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

Hi all, sorry about the pre-Thanksgiving downer. I hope the sun is shining in all of your homes, and that you are enjoying the day with loved ones. Have a great Thanksgiving.

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