Sunday, October 21, 2012
The Harried Pace
Okay, I get it. We're authors who have it all. We have penthouse apartments in New York, we drive only the most expensive sports cars, and we party until 2am and sleep until noon. Yes - we are successful artists who can do what we want when we want...in the movies, or on television. But, the reality is, most of us who are Indie authors are working class folks who have a driving passion to tell stories.
So, here I am today. I stand overlooking the abyss of publication. I watch as my latest new works hit the Amazon Kindle marketplace. I watch as they are gobbled up by beast that is the market, filled with other authors who stare with my same expression; an expression of fear and anxiety that no one will read the work, that it will just draw cyber dust upon those cyber shelves.
But, there is more to this story. I think you can identify too, if you are an Indie author. There are still miles to go before I can say, "I'm done with this project." Still ahead are marketing, attending conventions, advertising, and the obligatory word-of-mouth through Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads. How can I be in fifty places at once - and yet I strive to do so. I am here the sign reads at the beginning of this journey.
You know the pace. It starts out slow; at least it does for me. I have an idea, which leads to some writing, which leads to an outline, which leads to a project. The project begins with me writing chapters, and ferreting out the plot. I develop characters, their back stories, and who their friends are. Then, when I'm finally in the zone - I'm furiously writing page after page. There is something within me that makes this the most important thing in my life. I try not to neglect my loved ones. But, I do to a certain degree. All the while I write, re-write, shape and polish the product.
I get critique from online sources, and then re-work the project. I sometimes get a devastating critique and have to re-do the whole thing. All the while a tiny clock in my head is ticking. A barely perceptible voice is whispering in my ear, "You'll be a failure if you don't finish, if you don't complete this work." Not to say that I don't from time to time leave the work and start or finish another project, but I know that I'll return... I have to, to complete it.
The pace is quickening, and it made all the more imperative that I finish the rough draft, because I know that there is the next set of trials ahead. A rough draft is not the end, but a new beginning. Here I pair down the content, cut out the fat, try and lean up the work. Then, out it goes to those in my circle willing to review and give me more critique. The second draft comes, then the third, then the fourth... or was it the fifth... I'm losing track. Did I store the copy in file A or file B? I still need to continue marketing what's out there, but all the while I'm thinking of the new project.
It is getting so that I can't even stand the sight of my desk. I can't sit at the keyboard one more second. I need distraction. A walk to the coffee house, a moment in the sun, a ride on my bike to parts enchanted. When I'm back, I'm refreshed, but only for a short time.
As an author, I balance my day job with my unbridled passion for telling stories. All my writing happens on weekends and evenings. Not enough time to feel relaxed. And, still the clock that governs the project ticks away. But, here is the difference. For me, I love writing. The struggle and the reward are more than worth it; it being my internal drive to entertain.
I'm sure that you've felt that pressure at one time or another; that self-imposed pressure. The path that leads from thought to publication is not smooth, and forethought and planning are critical components to the success of any writer. I find it interesting when someone finds that I'm an author. A gleam forms in their eye, the one that says, "Hey, I have an idea for a book." Then, they say it, "Hey, I have an idea for a book." It is that look though, that tells me that they think the process is, write a book, hand it off to someone (maybe a publisher), and sit back and rake in the royalties. That look amuses me, and so I tell them all the parts that I play as an Indie author just to get my idea to market as a book. Their smile turns into a frown. They look forlorn and often say, "Wow, that's a lot of stuff you do." Then, I tell them how much I've made as an author, and how much I've spent. They typically don't want to talk to me anymore. The difference between them and me is that regardless of the struggle, I'm still going to write that book. Regardless of the royalties, I'm going to publish that book. And, lastly, regardless of the critics, I'm going to continue to write books.
I suspect that there are some of you out there that will identify with this post. Maybe some of you won't. Those of you who do, I'll see you on the highway of hard knocks, and those that don't, you are lucky to be so skilled. To all of you out there - I salute you as you travel along at that harried pace toward that New York pent house, wild parties, and those expensive sports cars.