Thursday, October 10, 2013

Let's Just Be Honest For A Minute Here, Shall We? About Self-Publishing And Why I Write, PART ONE

I'm home with a sick boy today, but the plus side is I can squeak in a blog that's been sitting on my head for about a week or so. That's one of the drawbacks of returning to school; a lot less time to blog about whatever's in my head at any given moment. But today I have time while the boy recoups on the couch to the melodious tunes of YO GABBA GABBA, so here's something I've been turning over and over in my head the last few days...

This is what we all want, right?
And that's the real reason why I write, and more importantly, try to publish. Let's be really honest, here (because that's what I've tried to do on this blog, since Day One),  and get down to brass tacks. I've batted around a lot of the reasons why I write, why I'm pursuing a writing career, why I want to get published, and lots of them have merit and are true, valid reasons. 

First of all, I just LIKE writing. I like the actual process of typing or moving a pen across paper, I like forming words, phrases, and clauses into paragraphs to form a composition about something.  I discovered this in college when I realized I wrote my essays and papers much faster - and better - than my peers, and also didn't seem to fear essay assignments nearly as much as my fellow students. 

This affinity for writing has opened me up to lots of freelance jobs - columns, articles, nonfiction essays - that've paid decently, and it's also why I still write book reviews now and then. I just like to write.



And, I have stories in my head. A choir of characters' voices competing for my attention all the time. I once said to my students that I thought writers suffered (enjoyed?) a publicly acceptable form of multiple-personality disorder, in that we always have all these characters in our heads, yapping all the time. If I didn't write them out, I'd probably go insane. In fact, I literally get CRANKY - suffer withdrawal - if I don't get my daily writing time.

Also, I do - in my own humble way - want to offer some sort of comment on this thing we call "life." I don't know how much I really have to say, but whatever I do have to say, I'd like to share, somehow. Finally - I've got this crazy, weird imagination that's forever asking "What If?" My final blog on horror over at Kristen Lamb's blog puts that into words best.

But the real reason why I write? Why I submit stories, risk rejection, get up so early in the morning, sacrifice my free time writing?

Let's be honest.

I just want to be READ.

I have stories to tell, and I people to read them.  Not just reviewers or other authors, but readers. I want people to read my stuff and say: "Loved it!" or "Fun story!" or "Made me think" or cry or laugh or whatever.

I want people to read me.

Several things happened this week that clarified that for me. First was this blog post by a current student reading THINGS SLIP THROUGH. Now of course, she's my student, so she's probably a little biased. But in some ways (writers who are also teachers, back me up on this) it's sometimes HARDER to impress your students. 

See, to them, you're not a writer. You're this lame person who gives them homework and grades their essays (never fast enough for their tastes) and yaps all day about books they don't want to read. In my experience, they tend to view anything we do creatively with a MUCH harsher eye. So I was a little blown away by her enthusiastic reaction to the collection. She actually said to me: "I've come to the conclusion you COULDN'T have written this, because it's just so AMAZING!"

Uh.

Thanks?

But really, it meant so much to me. Other students and fellow teachers who have purchased pre-sale copies are also telling me how much they like it, and I suddenly had to face the TRUTH for the very first time: at the end of the day, THIS is what I really want.

People who dig my work, and tell me so, and tell my why they dig my work.

Egotistical? Self-absorbed? Vain? I dunno. But what it comes down to, I think, is telling stories people get a kick out of, and getting a kick out of telling people stories.

A few days ago, I received an email from someone who'd recently read Hiram Grange & The Chosen One. The reader called my imagery "breathtaking" and called me "not only a storyteller, but a wordsmith" and that I "had quite the way with words."

This, of course made me very, very happy indeed. Because that's what any writer wants to hear: that people dig their work. Of course, for people to dig your work, they must read it. And to read it, they must find it. So as a writer, if I want people to read my work, I need to get it out there.

Which brings me back to self-publishing, once again, like I'm riding an insane carousel that just won't stop, because in many ways - keeping in mind all the pitfalls and risks, keeping in mind there are no guarantees for ANYONE's self-publishing success - the potential suddenly exists for writers to market to READERS without a publisher serving as the middle man. 

But the risks.

The risks.

More on that tomorrow...