I’m having one of those “it’s hard not to be bitter” nights. I’ve been working at this craft since I was 17. I’ve spent countless hours honing my voice and learning how to pace a scene. I’m damned proud of each of the books I’ve written, despite their flaws, because I know with each one I poured all of my passion for this craft into them. The first three of the series were written under conditions that were as big of obstacles to creativity as I can imagine, yet somehow I persevered and managed to create three pretty good books. Despite the quality of my writing, I still feel mired in the muck of obscurity.
Part of what makes me bitter is that piles of horse dung like Twilight make millions, while many writers like myself kill ourselves at day jobs, hoping for a break. It’s hard not to be bitter. I’ve worked my ass off this summer to finish book four before school starts back because once the semester begins, I’ll be so overwhelmed with bullshit I won’t have the creative energy to write much new prose. Night in and night out, I’ve hammered out scene after scene, believing this book is even better than the first three. Only time will tell if I’m right.
Another aspect of the creeping bitterness is social media. In this age, it’s absolutely essential to have a social media presence just to be noticed, but everywhere is so inundated with crap, from stupid cat memes to political diatribes to gossip that it’s hard to be heard among the din. Then, there’s the clusterfuck known as Twitter. I’m sorry, but I hate Twitter. It’s just endless noise, barely recognizable as English, and try as I might, I can’t make any sense out of it.
At this point, I feel like the line from “Slow Rollin Low” — “Ain’t that just like a fool / Want to ride on them trains / When them trains is all gone.” I’m a dinosaur, an antiquated relic. I feel like all of my hard work has been for nothing. Usually, what sells in high volumes are the bubblegum shit like Twilight or the smut porn like Fifty Shades of Gray. It’s hard to sit here and not be bitter when I feel like my talent has been wasted. And please, before anyone comments about how I’ve touched lives, consider that a whole mountain of good feelings doesn’t pay the electric bill or buy a bag of groceries. I don’t need wealth, but I do need to make a living at this. Otherwise, it just seems self-indulgent.
11 thoughts on “Late Night Ramblings”
I enjoyed reading your post/writing as it holds genuine, straightforward and honest emotions. I think many people have had “late night ramblings”-perhaps, more than are willing to admit it.
Porn isn’t selling either, my brother. I write erotica and this year’s sales are about 75% of what last year’s were. I’ve gone so far as to branch out into heterosexual romance! I put everything I’ve got into a book: story, plot, interesting characters, and some serious loving that reveals something about the character (or complicates the plot), and what’s getting seven figure deals? Twilight fanfiction with the numbers scraped off!
Sometimes I wonder if I should just give it up and go back to fanfiction myself.
I find you comment on branching out into heterosexual romance hilarious. 😀
I’m serious. I just completed my first two full-length straight novels. They’ll be my 10th and 11th published novels. I’ve had short stories, but mostly I’m a same-sex writer.
I know you’ve published with Ellora’s cave. Who else? Which are the least stringent on how much the romance showcases vs story plot?
I’m primarily with Pink Petal, Strorm Moon, Amber Quill, and Ellora right now and have published with Torquere, Phaze, Kerlak, Circlet, Queered Fiction and Library of the Living Dead. Any of them will take straight up smut (except Kerlak and LLD), but Ellora is most stringent about the romance being the A plot. They turned down Curse of the Pharaoh’s Manicurists because the action was the A plot and the romance was the B. I have trouble with EC, because I prefer my stories to be adventure with a side of romance.
Yeah, mine are sci-fi/urban fantasy with a side of romance.
I feel your pain. I hack, I tweak, I edit and resubmit and query until I’m cross-eyed from reformatting for the umpteenth time to suit the next agent or publisher’s guidelines. At worst I get silence or form letters of rejection. At best, which I’ve come to hate even more, “We really like this, but…”. At times I agree with the commentary, which is why I’ve edited my first book so many darn times. Other times I I want to strangle the editor who sent it. So it doesn’t fit squarely in a single genre…AND? Since when did a story have to be simple? I curse and go query another half dozen publishers, even though it’s been sitting with a couple of publishers for months and months.
Then I take a step back and remember WHY I write. Do I want recognition? Sure, but that isn’t the real reason. I write b/c it is a passion that I absolutely cannot live without. It’s basically my drug of choice in this crazy effed up world.
I also remind myself that some of the greatest artists, in many mediums, did not receive full recognition until after they died. They just kept at it, creating works that lived on after them. While I’d rather not remain an obscure unknown, I can follow their example of keeping on no matter what.
I must keep believing that if you pour your heart into something, there will always be people who recognize and respect that labor of love.
Keep on my friend, for you are not alone and your words do not fall into oblivion.
I just feel frustrated that I can’t make a simple living doing what I love and am good at in this age of reality TV and memes.
Thing is, very few people can. Personally, while I laugh at memes, I avoid reality TV like the plague. I’m one less person giving it ratings. If enough of us boycott it, eventually it will go away…I hope.
Let me quote Poppy Z. Brite at you: Only 2% of writers make a living at it. Only 2% of them make more than 20,000 a year.
I know a LOT of writers. I only know three people who make a living writing. One is the hottest thing in horror right now, one has awesome connections and one writes everything she can get her hands on, from nursing humor magazines to ghost-writing projects. (She writes very little fiction these days because the money isn’t good enough to justify the time)