So, 2015 is almost in the books. I won’t lie to you. It’s been a year of trials and tribulations. My writing career hasn’t yielded the results I had hoped for, BUT results have been yielded. That’s a terrible sentence. What an awful arrangement of words. It’s hardly English is it? No, don’t look at it. Let’s just keep going and hope it stays behind us. Don’t look back.
And that’s really the lesson I’m carrying forward into 2016. “Don’t look back.”
But first, let me take a look back. What? Did you think there wasn’t going to be some self-reflection in a post like this? Bear with me for a bit.
When I first decided back in 2013 to self-publish the Grant Scotland series, I knew only enough about the publishing industry to know I didn’t want to go the traditional publishing route and that I had discovered a large amount of inspiration, creative energy and determination that I had never before possessed. Deep down, I knew instant success was not in the immediate future, but I was certain that I no longer had any choice about what to do with the time left to me.
Gads, that sounds fatalistic. I don’t mean it like that. It’s just that I realized I was at that point in life where there are debatably (yes, that’s a word, WordPress – stop squiggling at me) more days behind me than in front. Nothing that I had done up until then had been especially noteworthy, but at the same time I don’t consider any of my time ill spent. Far from it. I’ve worked in bookstores (something I recommend to everyone who loves books – such a great job) and I’ve designed computer games (laborious, but incredibly fun) and I’ve even tried to be a serious-minded career-driven professional programmer – complete with benefits and a retirement plan and everything! On top of that I’ve had friendships and relationships with people both within and without my comfort zone. Every one of them has contributed to my continued growth as a human being and as a writer.
No, I don’t dismiss my past spent not writing. I’m just especially driven now that I’ve finally figured out my time is best spent engaged in trying to be a successful author. I don’t think I was ever the natural born writer. I tried to keep writing after I finished college, but I found I had nothing to say. I guess I just needed to get some dirt under my fingernails. But now I find that saying things in prose is the most important thing I can do with my time.
And I love that. It’s rewarding in and of itself, but I freely admit it is not at this moment monetarily rewarding. 2013 and 2014 were years spent writing and spending money to support my jump-start into self-publishing. When Wayward Daughter was released and the omnibus put together and made available earlier this year, I saw little to no interest picking up anywhere. I had three books in a fantasy series out and no one seemed to notice. On top of that, I couldn’t seem to find my target audience. It isn’t that they were reading it and hating it – I just couldn’t seem to put the book in their hands. Most of my readers that don’t have at least some connection to me are (according to Goodreads anyway) women who read fantasy only because they either like Gabaldon or Martin or are looking for the next vampire sex novel. And I’m none of those things. I’m more in line with Glen Cook or Joe Abercrombie – speaking strictly content and narrative style, of course.
So, this year I finally faced what I had known from the start was waiting for me. With my meager savings depleted and my former careers well behind me, I took on a part-time job delivering pizzas and started severely curtailing my advertising budget as well as all other expenditures. I have entered (cue dramatic pause in whatever music you may be listening to) the Dark Days. These are (and will continue to be for a while yet, I’m certain) the times that will sorely test my mettle and determination as a writer. Can I keep it going in the face of profound reader apathy and surrounded by an increasingly large and somewhat suspect ancillary industry of self-publisher services? Will the car stay healthy enough to make delivery driving profitable enough to stay ahead of the bills? Will I ever appease The Donald? Stay tuned!
But seriously, it’s not as bad as all that. I’m just in my December mood. This month has always been tough for me. Something about it being so damn dark out all the time, I guess. I secretly don’t mind at all how people and businesses spend every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas in an orgy of forced glee. It actually helps. And all the lights are nice, too.
Anyway, the pizza delivery gig is actually not bad at all. Much more lucrative than I had imagined. At around 25 hours a week, I can support my relatively humble lifestyle and still keep writing. Also, I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family and I count myself incredibly lucky to have them. It helps me keep going. Although my productivity has certainly suffered from those halcyon days of yore when I was easily hitting 1K words a day writing Wayward Daughter, I’ve still been able to keep at it. Additionally, I’ve been writing this blog and have been active on Twitter and on blogs and forums related to the self-publishing industry. So, those are undeniably good things, no matter the Trump glare I get from the disappointing results of seemingly every promotion I run.
Why indeed? Because without the hard edge of the relentless definition of success that capitalism lays before our feet, which Trump embodies more perfectly than anyone I know, I would get soft. And I’m plenty soft enough. I don’t need to be softer. Please don’t take that as any sort of endorsement of his politics, because it definitely is not.
Well, that’s the wrap up. The year has been a struggle, but progress is being made on all fronts. Slow progress, but it’s both honest and interesting – two qualities I admire a great deal and are rarely found together. 😉
Happy New Year, everyone! Next week I’ll get back to giving away T-Shirts and telling you about how the Troubled King promo went and possibly making some New Year’s resolutions. I guess I should’ve done that last thing here, but I’m no slave to the Julian calendar. Fight the power!
Or not. Or maybe just not today. Whenever you get around to it. No biggee. In the meantime – eat, drink, review, tip!
P.S. And don’t forget to add yourself to the mailing list for the next T-Shirt draw!