Don’t get me wrong. I like people. I like listening, watching, sharing ideas, and generally getting to know individuals and their wonderful character assets and fascinating character flaws. I just don’t like shoving my way into the spotlight and singing out like Barbra Streisand from Funny Girl, “He-e-e-ere I a-a-am!”
Though I definitely agree about not wanting any nimbostratus to darken my skies and precipitate on my parade, I have all my clowns and elephants and jugglers marching in this one. I just have to get it out of the alleys and onto the main thoroughfare, or else having clear and bright skies won’t matter at all.
I’ve found, in my personal experience, some people are really amazing at oral communication. These wonderfully social people have that gift of gab that sometimes borders on cult-of-personality charisma. They tend not to be strong writers, in my experience. Maybe its because they get their ideas across better and faster through speech. They have a great storyteller’s voice, the kind that could translate into a writing career if they were willing to record themselves talking out the tale then making a transcription of that rough draft for editing. My kids are oral communicators and reluctant writers, and I’ve tried hard to get them out of trying to explain what they’ve written verbally and just talk that explanation into the written piece.
Written works need to stand alone. I think of them like kids flying across the United States between divorced parents. If they can’t communicate to the flight attendants independent of their parents or a guardian? They’ve got real trouble and might never get off the ground.
Then, there are people like me, who can’t efficiently speak ideas. My preferred communication medium is writing, though it took me a very long time to be able to form cohesive thought. Yes, my childhood was socially rough. I was very shy, very anxious about making mistakes. And, well, I ate my anxiety, so I was the fat and shy kid. The low-hanging fruit for any kid wanting to practice peer cruelty, I was blessed with a whole lot of negative attention.
Why blessed? Because the friends I did make knew me well, and I knew them well. Because I escaped through literature and was exposed to good and bad story-craft and novel structure in binge-reading. Because I loved to think about what happened after “The End”. Because I would think about how the story would have been better if this character or that character had done something different. Because I moved myself to the edge and became the observer of human interaction and got more than lessons on how to be successfully social.
It takes fertilizer to make the best flowers, fruits, grains, and vegetables grow. I got a lot of powerful fertilizer dumped around my feet growing up, and I’m hoping for some prize-winning roses coming off the unimpressive-appearing bush that is me. Will it happen? Only time will tell.
Okay, so I’ve established that I’m socially awkward yet love to write. I’m evolving as an author, self-evident through what I’ve published. Readers of the Dome Trilogy have told me that the books get successively better. It’s generally why I recommend starting with Nightmare Specters, the second book in the Dome Trilogy. My first book has a good story, but the editing and proofreading isn’t as good. The third book, Solaray Dawn, shows that twenty-two years of blood and sweat and toil and tears. It’s massive, but I’ve been told it’s a faster read than the first two. Personally, I appreciate that it’s the first book in the trilogy with complete sentences throughout. The first book is a grinding slog filled with editing and proofreading errors. I wore all three hats getting it out, and my inexperience at cleaning up my work shows. However, I’m deeply aware of the mistakes and have worked hard to make each successive book better than its predecessor.
As an independent author, I don’t have a publishing house standing behind me. Everything they would do for me, I have to do for myself. I’m fortunate to have a supportive spouse. He saw the potential in my stories and encouraged me to achieve my dream. I’m a published writer, and I’m getting better at being an editor and proofreader and back-blurb writer. Now comes the hard part.
Social media is a blessing for the independent writer’s market. Word-of-mouth advertising is the golden goose of publishing. I’ve been more likely to read a book recommended by a person than pick up a book based on what a marketing group sends me. The Hook-on-a-Matchbook, a short sentence about the work to compel me to even look at the larger blurb sitting on a web page somewhere, is hard to write even for professionals. Twitter is the ultimate way to practice those read-bites. As one can see right here and right now in this journal entry, I am a verbose writer. This entry will be over a thousand words before I’m done. There’s a grand canyon between a thousand words and a hundred-forty characters. I’m sorry, I have to make a wee correction.
A grand cañón exists between a tweet and a web journal entry (Yes, I changed it because I knew I’d never hear the end of it if I mispelled cañón, dear).
So, getting it out there with gusto is antithetical to my personality. I cringe when I push the books. I do it because I have to, not because I want to. It’s hard to self-promote, because I have that powerful belief my work should stand on its own, like that unaccompanied minor I mentioned above. The thing is, I still have to get that kid to the gate and see him/her off safely. I have to keep open lines throughout that flight with the people picking up my kid. Once my child (or novel) is safely in the hands of the person on the other side, I still have to keep those communication lines open. Not as much, but I have to be available if there’s a problem or if something wonderful and exciting happens that the person wants to share with me.
I suppose it’s just part of the evolution of being an indie writer. Start with the story, edit it, proofread it, pre-flight it, re-edit it, re-proofread it, publish it, prepare the associated blurbs, market it through mass media, get it out there into the hands of people, and get myself out there even as I make myself available to those readers.
Is it going to be my second childhood? Possibly. However, I’m an adult this time. I have decades more experience than I did the first time and far more realistic expectations than I did when I was young. I’ll stumble and fall, be trolled and taunted. I’ll also stand up again, and good people will give encouragement and constructive criticism which will make the next book that much better.
This is a journey, not a bucket-list item. I am a writer, damn it.