Friday, July 22, 2016

Enjoy life!

Progress with my new novel is going slower than I anticipated. It’s hard to focus on storytelling during these long, lazy summer days. That’s okay… I feel content. It wasn’t always this way. Two decades ago, when I decided to focus my life energies on making it as a novelist, a slow-down like this would have driven me to the asylum. Thinking back, boy was I hungry to make it. Hour after hour, day after day, year after year… rain, snow, or sunshine, I would be in front of my computer tapping away at the keys like a woodpecker against a concrete tree. Stories were born and novels written. In my mind, the sacrifice was completely worth it.

The excitement of being a committed writer; the dizzying highs and terrifying lows, came with the territory. Ten years into the process, I acquired a top NY agent with a top literary agency and I thought I had made it (even contemplated quitting my day job to focus on my books). What a wonderful and exciting time in my career.

It was also around this era that the writing community got wind of Kindle’s new, so-called ereader. Some were curious how this would affect writers, others like me were terrified that the book world would collapse and there would be no hope at making a living writing books. My agent was also worried as he witnessed ebook sales soar and literary agencies and publishing houses begin to close. The days of agents and publishers nurturing new authors were becoming extinct. Unfortunately, that meant lightening their client lists.

I was devastated when I got the email and cancelled contract that my agent sent and that he and I were parting ways. My world came crashing down.  I’d spent more than a third of my life in pursuit of a goal/dream that had now been shattered. I’ll admit, I thought about giving up the craft entirely.

Weeks passed.  Not writing left me with an enormous amount of free time and boredom caused me to delve into the world of indie publishing. At the time, I had eight completed manuscripts sitting in a drawer so I figured I had nothing to lose. Half-heartedly, I paid a formatter and cover artist to get one of my sci-fi books, AFTER in shape for Amazon’s distribution. The field of ebooks was millions smaller at the time and I truly believed that no one would be interested in electronic books. Readers want the feel of paper and weight in their hands. For several days, I checked the sales stats about once an hour for naught. Then it happened.

I got a sale! Someone out there in the world had bought a copy of AFTER. I was elated, jubilant, over-the-top excited. I had sold a book! I WAS A PAID AUTHOR! Everything changed after that! Realizing that my time and opportunity at this new market was limited, and that soon everyone in America was going to write and publish a book, I spent every second of my free time learning social media, the new market, the best sites to promote, networking, and getting my books out there. Six months into it, I sold my first book overseas. A month after that, I hit #1 in my genre for my book DROP OUT. Sales continued to increase the more effort I put into the process. Weeks were spent plastered in front of my computer screen. Seasons came and went, and then years. My books sold all over the world. Four hit #1 in there genres and several have broken the Amazon top 100 in the paid store. I would label that a success.

So, why air my emotional closet after I have stated that my writing has slowed? Because for the first time decades I am comfortable with the thought of not writing or marketing today. I am okay with taking a walk by a glistening lake and enjoying the experience of a beautiful summer day without thinking that if I don’t write or market my work my career will come crashing down. It won’t. To paraphrase a line from my last published novel the #1 Amazon best seller, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, “The ultimate purpose and the reason for autonomous life is to enjoy.” And to that I guilt-freely say, I will!

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