Are those of us who write — with the purpose of being published and read by strangers — out of our minds?
I ask this of myself many times, since writing, fiction or not, is hard enough. Unless you’re already under contract, your the one who gets to decide when the project is ready for public consumption. You have to put the word out, market yourself, tell everyone and anyone about your book or store. Brag.
Lunacy or abject bravery?
You write a book and bark out, “Look at me! I made this! I wrote a book!”
You’ve never heard the sound of crickets laughing?
“Well, I know you don’t know me, but I promise it’s good! I mean, hey, it’s on Kindle so it has to be good!”
Well, that’s way too many exclamation points, someone said.
Then someone reads what you have done — wife, father, friend, complete stranger — and you realize that you just exposed yourself and your precious creativity to the outside world. That you want the reader to like the book is an understatement. You want the reader to love it, almost as much as you want that person not to hate it, because if they do and they’re part of your inner circle, you’ll get an awkward but polite smile and a halfhearted pat on the head. If your reader is a stranger…look out.
Many believe that the hardest part of writing is the re-writing, the editing. I say it’s the promotion. The selling. It feels so good during the writing process (at least it does for me), why ruin things by having to get out there and grind away at trying get other people to read your most personal work? What are we, a public service? Who cares if anyone sees it? Is it all about money? Ego?
Whether it’s romance, pulp, sci-fi, fantasy, chick lit, satire, literary fiction, sports, current events, SEO-heavy web content, biography, articles, blogs or even advertising copy, there is still one common thread, one reason for it all to exist: Telling a story.
We as living, thinking creatures have told stories since cavemen drew on walls, since writers and painters worked under the weight of poverty and never finding fame until their bones had turned to dust. Storytelling is an effort to relate or elicit emotional responses, to find out that we’re not alone in our thoughts or fears and that there is something connecting each of us.
I plan to continue telling stories to anyone within earshot until I turn to dust, crazy or not.