The name of this blog is “Under-Paid, Over-Enthused.” That started out as its tag-line, but really, that’s what this blog is an expression of. Me, bouncing off the walls with energy, talking about everything under the sun, for no other reason than to do it.
Well over a year later, I’m still under-paid, but the second part seems to have been obscured, mist creeping in between a double-paned window until only a fog shows.
Probably you, my readers, have guessed that. The less-frequent posting was a dead give-away, I’m sure, along with the narrowing of topics. Where once I wandered over this and that, I seem to have focused down on serious business, generally pertaining to my books, things in my books, and writing.
That mostly reflects my life getting busier since I began this blog, but it also has to do with the range of my life that I decided to no longer show. I cut characters who were fun but ultimately didn’t do the job, such as Husband, and directed reader attention to the topics that might actually help with the first part of my blog title.
They didn’t, but hey, I tried.
But the narrowing of focus wasn’t what curtailed the numbers; rather, it was to accomodate the cut-back. If I was only going to write a post or two a week, they had to be sleeker than before. And they were.
Being a writer is a rather lonely pursuit. When I began writing full time, nearly two years ago, Husband and I lived with my parents for visa reasons. Someone was always about the house while I wrote. Then the greencard went through and he and I moved to a small, dark apartment across town. It was the only place up for rent, and high on a ridge up a narrow road, with little walking access. We had one car. He took it to work every day. I started this blog.
Honestly, I don’t wonder if I didn’t write half those blog posts just for company.
Then that winter, last winter, I began my side job, and that changed the rhythm of my life. And I also began publishing.
It’s a time-consuming process, this business. Checking and re-checking, formatting, writing front matter and back matter and blurbs. Going through edits, pondering each change. And the research, so much research. Before I published, I’d done probably a hundred hours of just reading about the publishing business.
It wasn’t enough. Since then, I’ve done probably a hundred, maybe double that more.
Writing is a self-reflective exercise as much as it is anything else. What’s going on in your mind inevitably comes out on the page in some form. All Roads Lead to Hell is a perfect reflection of that, as I’ve talked about. But I’m pretty careful to keep myself off my pages. I’m not my characters.
Except that I am. I’m all of them. When I write them, in their heads, I am them and they are me. I am still them. If you asked me any question about any given character, I could answer it in a moment. What they’d do, what they’ve done, chances are I know off the top of my head because I’ve thought about all of it. All of it. For months, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. That’s just the way I am when I’m engrossed: over-enthused.
There’s a saying in self-publishing, and it goes like this: write what people want to buy, or write when you get home from work. For nearly two years, I’ve floated along somehow doing neither. For a year of it, I even enjoyed myself.
Perfect freedom is rarely perfectly freeing.
These days, in addition to this blog, I have a mailing list. I have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, two email addresses. A Goodreads page, five author central pages, and six separate publishing dashboards. My books are in bundles and on download sites. I keep a spreadsheet for promotions. If you think that isn’t enough, add my second penname and you can double that, minus the publishing platforms, because that name’s in Kindle Select. I have quite the little empire going.
For the past month, I’ve sat back and mostly let it go on without me. I’d say not much changed, but that’d be a lie; nothing changed. The parts that ticked kept ticking, while those that didn’t rested in the corner, gently unused.
A week ago I got a phone call from a publishing company asking for the rights to a short piece I’d submitted to them. I was momentarily confused, because I’d submitted that piece a year and a half ago, before even setting foot in this apartment. It’d been so long, I couldn’t even recall the name of it, or how long it was. In the time since I’d sent it in, I’ve done so much with writing, come so far. That’s the pace big publishing moves at, though; a snail’s trail, patiently oozing along.
If I’d stayed patient, would Saint Flaherty be just now preparing for its debut, under a new name, full of editorial changes I couldn’t even imagine? What twists would have tangled the plots? What phrases would have been cut? How many more times would I have re-written it before the final product hit the shelves?
Or would I be where I am right now except with nothing to show, wondering what hard work is for? I might admire the Hufflepuffs, but I’m not one of them.
Maybe it’s best I did what I did. I’m not great at dealing with criticism; every time I see the number of reviews edge up, I cringe. Not for book 1–I’m prettymuch immune on that one these days thanks to a spot of surprise back-stabbing a while back–but for the newer ones, un-knocked as they are. I worry.
I hope I get my enthusiasm back soon. It’d be nice. But maybe that requires adhering to that publishing adage. I can write books that sell, or I can write books after work, when my time belongs not to some unknown audience, but to myself alone, writing the characters I know so well, these people I’ve made in my head.
I miss them.
Anyway, that’s the writing I haven’t been doing. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Stay safe.