I’ll level with you: I am positively dreadful at being an author.
I’m a great writer. That much is not in doubt, at least not to me. It’s the one thing I’ve always known I’m good at, no matter how crappy I am at everything else involved in living as a human. I flunked out of college, I bailed on culinary school, I’ve had one meaningless job after another, but I’ve always had writing, so I always knew there was a point to my being here.
The problem is, being a great writer isn’t enough anymore. You have to be a savvy self-promoter, a whiz at online marketing and navigating the world of ebooks. You have to do blog tours and conventions. Even if you’re traditionally published, unless you managed to land an agent who nailed down an awesome contract for you, your individual books will matter far more to you than anyone else, especially to the publishing world. You’ll be on and off the shelves in no time, and regardless of your sales figures, the question will always be, “Okay, but what have you done for us today?”
That’s business. And these days traditional publishers don’t seem to know what the hell they’re doing either – their world has been utterly scrambled by Kindle and Nook and their friends. Where’s it all headed? I don’t know.
I’m an old-school writer. I’m not a publicist. I’m not an agent. I don’t know dick about advertising or SEO or any of that. I wanted to write back when you didn’t have to do those things – you were just the writer. You know, like every writer on TV; their publishers arrange these insanely huge launch parties at chi-chi restaurants and there’s a red carpet and reporters.
Every time I see that on TV I want to laugh until I barf. Or just barf. Not sure.
I was born just a little too late to be the kind of writer I can be, and at a time when those who make it are exactly the kind of people I’m not.
To say I’m an introvert would be a laughable understatement. I go through periods, thanks to my bipolar, where I can interact more easily with people and even be the life of the party, but I have no way to predict when that will happen. I’m much more comfortable in small groups, and I spend most of my time alone by choice. I love my friends, but I value my privacy and silence and hoard them like gold.
Since my publisher decided not to buy any further Shadow World novels, a decision based on the way business has to be done these days (I tell myself), I’ve been questioning all the versions of the future I thought I would have back when I was a dreamy-eyed kid. I’m trying to find the motivation to keep going even though my definition of success is no longer relevant. And honestly, if it weren’t for you guys, you wonderful readers who threaten me with pitchforks and screaming every time you finish one of my books, I’d have given it up by now. Despite the hate mail (OMG YOU GOT GAY ALL OVER DAVID!) and the insults (DIE FAT BITCH DIE AND LEARN TO WRITE) and the disillusionment, you make me glad to do what I do.
(Yes, I’ve been told to die. I’ve also been told to kill myself because I’m fat, and that I’m lucky I’m fat because otherwise I would get raped like I deserve to – welcome to being a woman on the internet.)
That said, the past few months have been very difficult, and while I feel like I’m on a more even keel thanks to a series of adjustments to my meds, I have found in the last month that I can’t write a word. I make notes and lists and timelines, but when I open the files I can’t even touch the keyboard. Book 6 is four chapters long right now, and I hate it; I need to gut it and rebuild it, but I just stare at the screen.
Here we come to the actual point of this post: I’m taking a (very short) sabbatical from writing, through the end of July. Not long, just a little break – and not a total blackout either. I’m not going to open either SW6 or Agency 6, but if I feel inclined to do some small thing (read: porn) I may dally a bit. And I will in all likelihood blog – I’ve been feeling this need to SAY THINGS lately, and there was a time I was much braver on my website.
While said short leave of absence goes on I need to reconsider my priorities and what is still possible for me. I’ll never truly stop writing, of course, but my heart is tired and my mind is worn, and whatever I had imagined for my life at 36, this ain’t it. I know I won’t figure it all out in a month. I just need a tiny breather. If it ends up going on through August as well (a distinct possibility) I’ll be sure and say so up front – I don’t want to just disappear. After all, hopefully in a few months I’ll have new stories for you.