I’m going through some stuff right now. I’m going to try and keep this blog going, but may be intermittent with it, email, and social networking.
When I was a child, I wanted to be an author, not for fame or fortune, but because I believed that I could make a positive difference to the world by writing books. I’ve written a lot of books, under this and the other name. There are published novels out there, and non-fics, and the graphic novel. Admittedly I don’t know how Hopeless is selling, but in all other areas, my books don’t really shift. I promote, I do events, I use the internet, it’s not for lack of trying on that side. It doesn’t help that, despite being up against film, TV, internet, computer games and going out, for your leisure budget, the book industry does not have the kind of marketing budgets these far more successful forms spend. There’s a belief that books are a magic thing that people are bound to want. They aren’t, and without investing in advertising, its no wonder book sales are not great. Archaia, who have Hopeless, work their bottoms off getting word out about books, I have no complaint about them, they punch well above their weight, and are doing a really good job, but the industry as a whole is a sorry mess.
Some days it feels like every other person online is writing a book. The world has no use for that many books. I feel like I’m adding to a pile of crap, not giving something of value, and I’m suffering from profound inspiration fail.
I’ve heard from a lot of sources how an author has to study the market, go where the money is, do what the reader wants. I can’t work that way, it sucks the life and inspiration out of me. Which puts me firmly into the category of the precious and self important author who won’t ever achieve anything. There are a tiny minority of authors who, through sheer genius and innovation get to put something actually new into the world. But I am not Neil Gaiman, or Yan Martel. I’m too ponderous for genre fiction and just plain not clever enough to count as literature.
There comes a time when you have to look at your sales, and how hard it is to get bookings, even when you offer to do it for free, how little interest there is, and look at your contemporaries. People who started after I did have got deals with much bigger houses, can reliably get far higher sales self publishing than I can, sell out at every event they are invited to, and so forth, and recognise there may be a very simple reason for this.
I’m not actually a very good author.
I think I’m wasting everybody’s time, and deluding myself that I could do something of value.
I’m going to take some time and rethink. The ‘proper job’ option is more for the summer, when moving off the boat will mean I don’t have a vast cycling commute to the nearest centres of employment. My body would not be equal to that. I’m going to keep editing, maybe look for more editing work. There are a few people who read this blog, and feed back in ways that make me feel it may be at least as useful as it is self indulgent, which is reason enough to keep going.
I have so little inspiration for fiction – this is not really a choice I’m making, more a recognition that perhaps I have nothing to tell good stories about. This has been building for a long time now, depression, exhaustion, frustration, the shape of the market and my too numerous shortcomings. I’m not anything special, and pretending that I could be has wasted a lot of time for a lot of people, for which I am apologising. I want to do something useful in the world, and this isn’t it. Right now I feel that road sweeping or shelf stacking would constitute a more useful contribution to the state of humanity than what I actually do.