Dear Readers, I have a true confession. Inside of me there is a novel, a story, which wants to be told, which is, in fact, more than half-written, and it is waiting patiently for me, its author and creator, to get busy and finish it. It’s not that I don’t want to, not really. It’s more like it’s sort of stuck in a kind of limbo, a fetus in the womb which needs more nourishment before it can grow large and strong enough to finally emerge into the world and be seen. This unborn baby is crying for me to do something to help it. I hear its daily suffering, yet am so far incapable of rescuing it from limbo.
Why? You may well ask. I think there are several parts to the answer. For one thing, the Voice of Criticism stops me with thoughts such as, “Are you kidding? Who ever told you that you could write? My dog could write better than that!” and, “Well, of course even if you did finish that ridiculous novel of yours, the chances of ever being published are somewhere between a snowball and hell, and even if you did by some miracle finally get it published, who on earth would ever want to read it?” You get the picture. That Critical Voice is tough alright, and pretty mean too. I know perfectly well I shouldn’t listen, and simply ignore her (yes she is a feminine voice) and get on with it…. and yet.
Then there is the other part, which is about, well, yes, how does one actually get a book published in this modern world, and then find readers? Okay, I know about the ‘new world of publishing’ and e-books, self-publishing, marketing, creating readership through social networking, etc, …. but honestly, I would so much rather simply Write the damn thing, and let somebody else figure out how and who is going to read it! The whole idea of having to do an entire song and dance selling the book before I have even finished writing the first draft is making me feel nauseous. What happened to the good ol’days of “Just write it and they will come?” Or am I making it up that those days ever really existed?
From the sheer volume of blogs on WordPress alone, it is not difficult to see that many, many humans are writing and ‘self-publishing’ on the net every single day, and that a fairly good percentage of them also have stories and novels, all sorts of writings, burning inside of them, clamouring to get out. I am far from alone in this, obviously. So I can easily become overwhelmed with it all, start feeling like I am just another lowly worm on the ground of the Author Hierarchy of the Western World, which then leads to such discouragement that I simply let yet another day go by without writing (my novel, that is.) What is to be done about my dilemma?
If I were to take Natalie Goldberg’s advice, or even Julia Cameron’s, for that matter, I would: 1) write every day, 2) ignore that Critical, Mean Voice, and 3) keep writing until I finish the novel, never mind the naysayers in my head and in the world. Good advice. And I am writing nearly every day, by doing this here blog!, I argue with my self. Oh yeah? Then why is your novel sitting on your computer and in some journals on your shelf, collecting virtual (and actual) dust? Why don’t you just…. finish it?
Dear Readers, I implore you who are of the writing persuasion to help me! I feel I cannot do this alone, and beating myself up for not doing it isn’t exactly enough motivation to continue. Any words of wisdom and encouragement would be greatly appreciated about now. Every time I glance at that stupid calendar thingy on the side of my blog, where it says how many months to go before I am finished with my novel, fills me with guilt. Needless to say, it ain’t gonna happen by the 3rd of September like it so boldly states. Back in January when I decided upon that arbitrary date, it seemed a plausible enough deadline. Now that it is halfway through the summer, I can see it is a fool’s game and I am the fool.
The truth is, I really do want to finish my novel. I simply have lost my way, can’t find the map, misplaced the car keys, forgot just how to get there from here. I need a guide, an Athena to come in some guise to help me as she helped Odysseus to find his way home again, finally. Virginia Woolf I am not, but neither I am under any illusions about it. I simply want to finish it and have some marvelous editor help me edit it, then have some wonderfully humane and helpful publisher love it and want to publish it. Honestly, is that so much to ask?
P.S. Here is a blurb from a book that a friend recommends to me from Amazon, of course: Written by experts with thirteen books between them as well as many years’ experience as a literary agent and a book doctor, this nuts-and-bolts guide demystifies every step of the publishing process: how to come up with a blockbuster title, create a selling proposal, find the right agent, understand a book contract, develop marketing and publicity savvy, and, if necessary, self-publish. There’s new information on how to build up a following (and even publish a book) online; the importance of a search-engine-friendly title; producing a video book trailer; and e-book pricing and royalties. Honestly, when did being a writer equal becoming a marketing expert and salesperson? Did J.K. Rowling have to go through all this after she was discovered in the laundrymat? And just what exactly is a ‘book doctor’ anyway? Is it the publishing world’s version of a spin-doctor? Oh what has the world come to, doctors spinning hype on books that may or may not even be worth all that hyperbole just to make a few lousy bucks? Forget the Critical Voice, she has been replaced by Mr. Cynical!
- Don’t Publish That Book! (forbes.com)
- My very first book trailer! (sophieetallis.wordpress.com)
- Learning the Literary Ropes (answers.com)
- Write Motivation in July (tamlinsey.wordpress.com)
- My Favorite Books on Writing (nursingstories.org)
- 20 Things I Learnt From An Agent (the-view-outside.com)
- Writing, Self-Publishing, and Self-Editing (geardiary.com)
- Why I chose to Self Publish (aherculeaneffort.wordpress.com)