As I continually attempt to re-engineer who I am, what I’m about, what the heck to do with my writing, one definite emerges from all the clutter:
That I am, indeed, cluttered.
Confused. Baffled. Verrückt.
I have always tried to write really good fiction. Not just in terms of stories, but in the very employment of those stories. While I want my words to display as literary prose (or poem), I wanted my content to display as genre. The term “upmarket fiction” has since emerged, and I have discovered that is a term I gravitate toward.
I have tried to analyze who my readership is, and while I do maintain that I want the world to be my readership, and industry professionals decry such generalities, that is, indeed, my freaking goal. I don’t feel my work should be limited to any one readership, because I tackle topics that everyone thinks about, considers, and even worries about. I say this with utter confidence because I am one of those people, and if one person thinks of it, millions do. As different as we all think we are…we are all very much alike.
My stories tackle such topics as:
Life after death.
Conspiracies (oh, my God, just turn on the NEWS!)
Life elsewhere and in other forms.
The little voices in our heads.
What is behind the Curtain of Life?
Tell me you’ve never considered any of these topics, ever, and I simply won’t believe you. We all wonder what really goes on when we go to sleep and when we die. About the preponderance of violence. Who’s covering up what. The strange lights in the sky, and is there really other life out there and if so, what kind? From where does it—and ours—emerge?
All topics I’ve tackled.
My stuff isn’t oriented around fads, video games, superheros-of-various color, or whether or not I have the proper ratio of one segment of the population to others (I don’t categorize people by their physical properties…continued dwelling on this will continue to separate us…not unite us). And though there is nothing wrong with most of this, those stories are selling and mine aren’t. And I just don’t get why…short of metaphysical considerations. And maybe that is exactly why my work is not selling.
Last year I sat in on a panel (in the audience, not on it), it might have been MileHiCon, where one über successful indie author told the room that he flat-out doesn’t need to promote his work because it had found its audience in the online gaming community, I believe it was. His fans talk about and promote his work for him.
And that is what utterly confounds me. I hear this from every successful writer out there: that their fans promote their authors.
They write reviews, they talk up their work. They let others know about these books.
Word of mouth.
Why is it that his work easily and seemingly effortlessly found its audience—and so quickly—while someone like me who’s been around better-than-twice this guy’s lifespan can’t seem to make a dent into anything? What the heck am I doing wrong?
The few reviews I get are wonderful. But they are few and FAR between. I find it hard to ask people face-to-face to please-pretty-please write a review and tell your friends, and even wrote a post about not doing that. I feel people today will write a review about anything, so if they really like my work they’ll write one—but is that true? Maybe my work truly only appeals to a very select few. Or maybe my readers really are telling others about it, but those being told just aren’t buying it.
So that brings me back to my cluttered mind. Cluttered with confusion. Cluttered with possible self-doubt. Cluttered with what am I doing wrong? Instead of focusing on my writing, I’m focusing on all this shit.
Am I not properly focusing on a more targeted audience? Have I still truly not yet found my band of supportive brothers and sisters? Is my intended readership so narrow that they don’t frequent the Internet nor get caught up in Amazon or Goodreads or any other online anything, and if so, how the heck do I reach them?
For crying out loud, I have no Wow History, no Platform of Coolness. I just want to write, to entertain, to get people to think. To write. What’s Stephen King’s platform? Really cool stories and great writing. That’s all. Why can’t that be my platform? Why can’t it just be about the writing?
Ha, or maybe it is and I’m just not that good?
Maybe therein lies the Catch-22? I’m within my own mind when I write this stuff, so how can I truly tell if what I’m doing is worthy of a readership when I’m part of the problem?
I mean, I’ve seen writers of really poor fiction still maintaining they’re All That. I can tell bad writing from good in others, I can—but can I do that legitimately in myself?
I really am not getting down on myself, but I am being brutally open to any and all angles and possibilities as I reevaluate my situation.
If my writing is the reason for its own lack of success, I must be open to that possibility. I am told it is not…but I have to face that I have been doing this for an entire lifetime and not seeing the results someone in my position should be enjoying by this stage in their career. So if there is something I am doing wrong, do tell me. Give me a hint?
But…in the meantime…I am forced to keep doing what I’m doing, which is write. Write content that is cool to me. That I enjoy and do not find anywhere else out there. I don’t do it because I can’t find anyone else doing what I do, but because there is some weird-assed wild hair inside me that continues to give me ideas…and I am still optimistic enough to want to bring them to life. That there is still the artist in me that begs to create, and it is true that the creation of art is in itself its own raison d’être.
So…in the meantime…I shall continue to…reflect…upon my quandary…and share the journey with all of you….
Thank you for your time!