Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Some days the bear gets you

So you all know that old joke:
Two men are walking through a forest.  Suddenly, they see a bear in the distance, running towards them.  They turn and start running away.  But then one of them stops, takes some running shoes from his bag, and starts putting them on.
“What are you doing?” says the other man.  “Do you think you will run faster than the bear with those?”
 “I don’t have to run faster than the bear,” he says.  “I just have to run faster than you.”

Some days, you get the bear, some days the bear gets you, right?  That's what it's like, sometimes, being a self-employed writer. I've had a title published and available now since Nov 24. We indie publishers can look at our sales every day. On a good day, we look at them (say when we're running a promo) and squeal with delight. "Look how many people bought my book today! Yay!"   On another day you look at the little chart going up and down and mumble "Oh great. Look how many people 'bought' my book today. Grumble." Those are the days that you can feel that bear right at your heels.

I genuinely am not trying to get rich quick by writing (Snorts the sarcastic bear "Good thing, too!"). I want people to read my work and like it. That is happening, every day. It's a joy when someone contacts me and says "I'm reading your book and I love it!" That is a good moment. I want to hug everyone.

And I would write no matter what. I used to write creative-stuff when I was trying to write my dissertation (a totally different kind of creation). When I was in the midst of caring for twin infants, when I had a moment, I would think of writing and what I wanted to write about. Sometimes it would be just a blog entry about how darn cute they are. Sometimes it would be something more serious, and I would tell my muse "Just-- be patient. I'll get back to you."

The other thing about being an indie writer is that there are a lot of publishing-related things you DIY, do yourself, like putting Kimberly instead of Kim on your title page... big mistake.  "I guess I was feeling formal that day, sorry!"  Deciding whether to put the graphic before your chapter title, where it LOOKS cool, or after your chapter title, where it will look odd, but will get published by another distributor because they won't publish something with a picture before the chapter title. (Why ever this is an issue, I can't understand. I'm sure it's some editor's pet peeve, so they made a rule and a computer program and that's the way it works, no getting around it.)
© Sablin |
Asian Black Bear Photo
I imagine, if you were under the guiding wing of a big publishing house, they would handle this kind of stuff for you. Dealing with the printer's guidelines (which are really specific, and picky, and make no sense). Making sure you don't ever put the long spelling of your name (Kimberly) on your title page or copyright page by accident. The folks under a traditional publisher probably don't even know those issues ever come up. I'm sure that's nice. They also don't get to do some of the fun parts, though, and I have to remember that when I'm frustrated and yelling at my computer.

All of it distracts from the process of opening up that book file and writing. Being creative on the page, thinking about your story.... that's the bear racing alongside you, beautiful and wild and possibly deadly but so worth it.

Being chased around by rules that don't make any sense and told to consult a "how to" file that doesn't apply at all to the issue you're having, and the review process taking 24 hours every dang time so each delay means another day... that's the bear catching and eating you. Some days the bear gets you.

But maybe, even then, it's a cool, zen bear, meditating on a log. And it's kind of cuddly, and not too scary. It's just kind of enjoying the heat of the sun, chilling, thinking about having lunch. Perhaps the bear is just trying to catch you to tell you something funny, a really good joke it once heard about a guy walking into a bar.... yeah. That's what I'm gonna go with. That's the kind of bear I'm going to imagine hanging out with today. Hi, meditating, kind bear. Let's go have a cup of tea. You like honey with yours? Oh, right. Never mind. Of course you do. 

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