Writing

The Writing I Haven’t Been Doing

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. 

 

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4 thoughts on “The Writing I Haven’t Been Doing

  1. I’ve been putting off publishing my novels for this very reason. I’m actually afraid to publish–afraid I won’t have time to write in the time-sink of promotion. And afraid that it will paralyze me in future writing endeavors, finding out that the things I treasure most about my books are what some others dislike. I actually took the advice that I got on AW to query with relief.

    I think it comes down to this–you have to write the story that’s inside you. Harry Potter may have been a great success, but if I had to save the world by writing a Chosen One story, the world might be in trouble unless satire is an option. Your stories will resonate with others or not. I think we can look for the most commercially viable among available story ideas. For instance, I passed on writing a paranormal romance where the girl kills her werewolf lover, because it’s mind-boggling to me that a human predator would be a good soul mate for long. And who’s going to read this story? The genre is full of the exact opposite, and that seems to be what people want. So I chose to develop other ideas.

    But I don’t think much of any brilliance is written by merely seeking commercial success. Your writing has elegance and flair. Your descriptions are compelling, and your words are well-chosen. Only you can decide which tapestry you’ll weave.

    I’m sure it will be a compelling one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. High praise to my writing, coming from you! I hadn’t known you’d read any beyond the short story.

      I’ve been wondering how your writing was going. That’s part of what prompted this post–I didn’t want people confused over when they’d see another book. There’s other reasons it won’t be super soon, like a massive editing snag, but it’ll be 2017 for sure. Is it Snow White you’re querying?

      Just remember AW on the whole does not like indie publishing, so they advise querying to everyone. Part of why I left there. But if querying is truly what you prefer, by all means, I wish you luck. I haven’t found any particular joy in marketing my romance novel, so if I write more I might hand them over to a specialized e-publisher just to wash my hands of the bother. But I’m happy to keep my sci-fi, as it’s a far richer world and I want to be able to take it wherever.

      Plus, I still see big publishing collapsing in the next five years, but that might just be the anarchist in me having wishful thoughts. 😄 More likely a couple will just absorb the others and it’ll become the Big Three or whatever.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going to happen with publishing. It’s a lot like politics that way. 🙂

    I’m querying Hans and Greta. Snow White ends in a cliffhanger at the end of book one, and it’s integral to the story. I think that one will go SP unless I actually (gasp) get an agent who thinks (s)he can peddle it.

    Part of the reason I decided to wait is I did another editing pass on everything, and my novels are tighter and better now. And I wondered how good my writing will be in a year’s time. Maybe I’m still too young on the writerly growth curve. Maybe I should wait, just to see how much I grow as a writer. If that hadn’t coincided with the advice to query, I might not have taken it. As it is, it’s sort of a might-as-well.

    Having self-publishing as an option is wonderful for taking away the whole query anxiety thing, though. I’m not firmly convinced of the advantages of either course, so that relieves much of the drama from rejections.

    And I don’t really have a handle on promotion at all. Seems like that’s something that’s really lacking, but my focus has been on editing, so, I decided to be patient and give it another nine months or so. Hopefully that will either allow me to line up all my ducks so I don’t feel like I’m constantly scrambling. To call my marketing a plan is to give it a wholly undeserved compliment. I put my collection out for free and tweeted and blogged a bit.

    So I need to figure that bit out and paint more covers and write more stories while my focus is undiluted. I really hope that’s not just rationalization for procrastinating. *shrugs*

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