Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Contract Extension

Did you know I’ve been doing this full-time writing thing for five years? That’s right, five whole years have expired into the abyss of stringing letters together, directly under my fingertips.

My first (and presently, only) novel, Ripple the Twine, dropped in 2012. My first born. My baby. Also, my problem child.

Because that book is awful but it became the foundation I built my career on top of like a card house in a tornado.

I rushed it into production and publishing because I wanted to get it out there. And I got it out there to so many people. People who promptly judged my abilities. And, in the eyes of the general public, those abilities sucked.

I’d been working on the thing since NaNoWriMo in 2009. Three years of character and story development.

Three years of forcing something I’d never done before – typing The End on a full-length story.

And, quite honestly, I was tired of looking at it. Tired of thinking about it. Tired of trying to make it perfect because I didn’t have a freaking clue how to do that and was too broke to hire the help I needed to make it better.

I didn’t know how to edit a book. Because I’d never done it before. I didn’t know that nobody wants to read a story with no real purpose other than to tell a story. That characters need extra motivation these days. And by extra I mean that telling a story about four people simply living a snippet of their lives isn’t enough anymore.

That first kisses are out and bondage is in. That cute and sweet equates to snooze and forget. How was I supposed to know that a girl falling in love just doesn’t carry a story these days?

It’s boring. It’s not enough punch to force anyone to want to read it. People want action, drama, challenges that write a writer into a corner they have to force their characters to claw their way out of because it’s the only way to survive.

Sex. Murder. Controversy.

No matter how many sharks are leapt over in the process.

People don’t want to read cute stories about tomboys and their random friends.

At least, not the one I wrote. Because, I’ll say it again, the book is awful.

Ripple needed about two more rounds of professional edits, a different lead character, and three (read: 11) shots of vodka if it was ever going to do the thing I wanted it to do.

Which, if you’ve been reading my blog for more than a minute, you know that “thing” was: propel me into a full-time career as a book writer.

Okay, to be fair I am working full-time as a book writer. So maybe that’s the wrong choice of words.

What I meant to say is: Ripple needed to propel me into an agented life of glamourous Hollywood parties that I was invited to simply because I wrote the book of the century.

Okay, I’m literally laughing at myself. That’s a stretch even by my deluded standards of how awesome and relevant I am to the entertainment world.

But I did think someone with some kind of clout would read it, review it, love it, and start telling their friends so I’d be able to write books for a living. That, out of the BILLIONS of people on the planet I might be able to find, like, 50,000 super fans who would gobble up everything I’ve ever written.

That’s literally only like .008% of the entire world’s population or some other math equation that, when written out with words, equates to fucking tiny in the grand scheme.

With a tiny number of fans (read: huge to me), I could MAKE A LIVING at my long-hours, mental bullshit, trapped alone most of the time, career.

What I failed to factor about my plan for glory is that the book sucked. I knew it. Friends and family (sweet as they were about telling me they enjoyed it) knew it.

I wasn’t getting “famous” on that piece of crap.

So, what did I do?

I went and wrote another book. Duh. Because that’s what book writers do when faced with a terrible book. They just keep writing.

And my second child was a much better book.

A book with murder, mayhem, tension, both plot and sexual.

One with a broken-hearted but still slightly rational female main character, tossed (by page three) into a totally irrational and heart-pounding situation.

And, not to entirely toot my own horn or anything but, Reckless Abandon is a good fucking book. Finally, I had written the thing I wanted to write all along. A good book. A marketable book. A book that would bust open a series. One that could sustain my writing life for years to come.

That book also dropped in 2012. So, as far as I’m concerned, we can all just forget about the first book and pretend Abandon is book one, right?

Because, after writing and releasing that book I made a promise to myself. Hell, I developed an entire business plan around a promise to myself.

I was giving myself five years and then, if things didn’t show signs of major traction, I would go back to writing as a “cute little hobby” instead of a career and go get a soul-sucking job.

Because, you know, bills don’t go away just because a girl has a dream.

Reality is, I can’t afford to have dreams now.

October marks five years since Abandon hit the market.


Here I am, three months away from my self-imposed deadline for glory and where am I at?

Well, truth told I feel like something is happening. I mean, for the past 17 or so months I’ve made a royalty every single month. So that’s something, right?

Is it paying the mortgage? Hell no.

But is it more realistic than my delusion back on April 21, 2012 when I envisioned opening my email to a notice that thousands of copies of my first book magically sold overnight?

Hell yes.

But, because I want to make a real living as a writer a few things have been bugging me lately.

First, I still don’t know how to do any of this shit aside from the writing.

Talking about marketing of course.

And, truth be told, that's really the only thing bugging me right now. I’ve been blogging here for ten years this October but what has it gotten me besides therapy? Is it moving my career forward? I don’t think so. And all the marketing pros would tell me that means every time I write a post I’m wasting time.

So what should I be doing instead, then, huh?

I’ve tried putting myself out there on all the social networks and connecting to people who might be my readers (fail), tried starting a writing-advice-by-writers-for-writers business with a fellow writer (fail), tried amping up the advice on my website (fail, see a trend?).

And I came to quickly realize that I suck at all that shit too. Because, just like my books, I don’t know how to tell people about any of it. At least, not the right people. I don’t know how to get it out there.

Yet I just keep wasting time doing it all as if in some magical universe somehow it all makes any kind of difference. Like a stupid dreamer.

It’s funny. I know people (AKA: authors who actually make a living as writers) would be horrified to read this post – “oh my god what a whiny bitch complaining that she gets to live a life as a full-time writer and telling people all this truth about her life and career, doesn’t she know you’re supposed to fake it until you make it these days?”

To a point, I agree. However, the only people who actually read this blog are the four people in my family who already know all of this shit anyway so I seriously doubt anyone will gasp in surprise at my admissions.

Anyway, there’s another new title releasing in September – 30 Chapters in 30 Days and then I’ll wrap up this year with the 3rd book in my California Dreamin’ Series hitting shelves in late November.

After that, I’m just not sure what to do anymore.

I’ve been writing so long it’s a personality trait so the likelihood of entirely giving it up is slim. But I can’t work this many hours a week for free anymore. I just can’t. My worth as a person, a human, is waning big time with every minute I bang my head against the keyboard so I can rejoice at my $2.76 royalty check at the end of the month.

This is literally not fulfilling.

Because the writing isn’t the thing I’m bad at. It’s promoting the writing. It’s selling the books. But I don’t know how to do it so I’m definitely stuck.

I’d love to ask everyone to tell their friends, review my books, but, again, the four people who read this blog have already done that in SPADES and I love them for it like I can’t even express. But that doesn’t get me 50,000 super fans.

That doesn’t make this a career. It makes this a very long break from reality.

I literally don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not going to be a writer. And that might sound like drama but it’s true. Nothing ever made me feel like I was doing the right thing before.

The problem is that all those other things paid me to be their bitch. And I really like to eat, have a roof over my head, all that shit that a person actually needs money for in this real world.

I honestly don’t mean this to be a pity party, it isn’t like that, more of an affirmation that I’m giving myself a year extension. If I don’t see major (I mean fucking MAJOR) improvement in my writing to income ratio by next fall then I might just release this dream and be done with it all.

Because, sometimes, dreams are just stupid.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

No comments: