Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I'm Baaack

Wow! It's been a long time since my last post. I'm done apologizing for my lapses. Why am I done apologizing? Mainly because I doubt anyone really cares or has been waiting with bated breath for one of these posts. Not looking for pity, just being a realist.

I figured it was time to check in and update anyone who cares to read this about my current status. Also, I'm sure anyone who's made the effort to search for this blog might like to know I'm still working on stories; they're just coming at a slower pace than my previous material.

Let me also just put this out there: I really don't enjoy writing these blog posts. I do it for the aforementioned reason; so anyone interested in my writing will know that another book is forthcoming (at some time in the future, anyway). I haven't stopped writing. Although I do have several irons in the fire, I've fallen into the trap of jumping from one to the other and then to another, which is not progressing the needle as fast as concentrating on one book at a time. So, rest assured, a new book will materialize eventually.

I've discussed in the past my obsession with achieving financial independence. I have an addictive personality, which means when I find something of great interest to me, I give it laser-like focus until I can succeed at it. I did this with my finances. I won't bore you with the details as I know most people find discussing finances the cure for insomnia. However, I'm very glad I followed this path because I lost my job in January and have remained unemployed since. If I hadn't socked away a lot of my income, I'd be in dire straits right now. But, as it turns out, that exercise saved my hide! I'm also proud to say I've reprogrammed my mind about spending/saving and improved my financial situation as a result.

This brings me to yet another hiccup in the journey to publishing another book. My wife accepted a job out-of-state, so we're trying to get our house ready to put on the market. In the process, I've been visiting friends and family before I go. Needless to say, I've been very preoccupied and busy with this. I decided it was fruitless to look for another job only to leave it after a few months. Of course, getting ready for an out-of-state move would probably jeopardize my performance anyway.

These are not merely excuses for why I haven't done much writing lately, although it has made it more difficult to concentrate on sitting down to create. This is my current state of affairs and I felt that I owed it to anyone who's interested to provide an update.

This blog isn't for me to dispense writing advice. There's enough of that out there on the interwebs. Also, I don't think there's much advice to give aside from read voraciously and widely, then sit your butt in the chair and start writing, if that's what you feel compelled to do. There's no magic in it, but at times there are some glorious moments. Those moments are few, though. A lot of the time is tedious and doubtful. And don't get me started on editing. I hate editing! However, it's a necessity if you want a publishable story. The most enjoyable thing about writing/publishing, to me anyway, is holding that polished, finished product in your hands. Knowing you've written; you've created this little gem. And what's more exhilarating is having someone who has read your book talk to you about it! That's priceless.

Instead, I use this blog (or intend to, going forward) to let readers know the status of my work and to vent or share things that capture my attention. I'm not in this for the money. I know, I know. A lot of authors tout that same thing, but for me, IT'S TRUE. I don't think this is a viable means to a living. If you think that, I urge you to research more authors who claim to make a living writing (much less novelists).

I started out in 2005 with visions of grandeur, thinking I would be the next [insert famous author here]. As I wrote, studied the market, queried, received rejections, and trudged along, I also researched the incomes of other authors (who would actually tell), noted their workloads, how long it took them to finally get published, and realized this was a grueling, arduous path for little money (if one was one of the lucky few to actually run the gauntlet). After all, there were a series of gatekeepers blocking the path and if you didn't appease them, well...

Then, something great happened. The stigmatized self-publishing arena blew up with the digital revolution.

At first, I was just as skeptical as nearly everyone else. Self-publishing was for those who couldn't write. They hadn't been validated by the so-called gatekeepers; the one's who distinguished between garbage and literary genius. Or so I thought. That's largely bullshit. Sure, there is a bunch of horrible writing that gets published via the "easy button" of self-publishing. But there are also some geniuses who go largely unnoticed. Those gatekeepers, the agents and editors, don't know everything. They try to cling to a formula, and that, I think, is what's responsible for the glut of zombie books, vampire-romance, erotica, etc. that has saturated the market. Just look at 50 Shades of Gray or Twilight. And don't even get me started on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! What a rip off! Take a classic and add zombie to market it as your own?! Fuck you, Seth Grahame-Smith!

With a new, more realistic view of the writer's life, I decided to continue it as a hobby. I would self-publish, where I had total creative control of the entire process. From inception to cover design and interior layout, I set out to create my own art at my own pace. Deadlines? Nope. Someone dictating what should be on the cover? Nope. Separate contractual obligations for digital vs. paper-copy? Nope. Writing in just one genre to appeal to a certain audience? Nope. I do it ALL myself and, so far, couldn't be happier with the result. If I want to try my hand at a murder mystery, I do it. If I want to write southern fiction afterward, I do it. My only criteria is that I produce the best piece of fiction I possibly can and that doesn't mean just making sure there are no typos. I rely on my wife (an English professor) to catch any of my big mistakes and help me clean up my major mistakes. Then I get input from some graphic artist friends about my covers. And, finally, I don't feel comfortable until my beta readers have weighed in with their opinions and helped to identify as many typos and places that need clarification as possible.

Of course, reading is very subjective. Everyone is not going to embrace a book like we want them to. So, I make damn sure I put out the best possible book I can with a story I like and would want to read. There will be others who praise it, just like there will be detractors. There's nothing you can do about those who don't care about the genre or the subject. Everyone's different.

So there you have it; my state of affairs, basically. I mentioned earlier that I had a lot of irons in the fire. Currently, I'm jumping between eleven different stories, some I've worked on, some are written (they just need to be edited), and some are fleshed out ideas. But, I'm working on all of them, even if just a little. They range from southern historical thriller to contemporary horror to crime fiction.

I'll probably write a follow up post (this one's getting a bit too long) about those stories where I'll ask for input from you, the reader, as to what you'd prefer to see. This is something I've never done. And, of course, I'm hopeful if I expect to get one or two responses. In which case I'll do what I always do; focus on whatever appeals to me at the time. Damn, I love the freedom of self-publishing.

Thanks for dropping by!