A Thunderous Conclusion.

brainSo, I think I broke my brain. I am currently working to fix it.

Over the past four months since I indie-pubbed my first novel, Leather to the Corinthians, I have been spending considerable energy using social media (read: all my free time) to market and promote the book. Prior to its release, I had done a sizable amount of research and created a massive, multi-tabbed spreadsheet filled with competitions, communities, reviewers, Facebook Pages, distributors, and so on.

Prior to completing the novel (which in itself was an excruciatingly long process, some of which was documented on this blog), I spent a considerable amount of time learning how to publish the book (this was after many months of query letters and rejections), as well as hiring professionals to polish the manuscript, format the text, and illustrate the cover (money well spent). I read page after page in book, on websites, etc. I was consumed with figuring it out.

NOTE: I have an obsessive personality. I wasted two years playing World of Warcraft. Serious players spend as much time reading about the game and how to play it as they actually play it.

I had created a pressure situation. I knew I could spend years knocking on agent’s doors and submitting small pieces to lit mags. That’s one classic model of building a writing career, and it is advisable. It’s respectable. However, I’m 43 not 23 and I am feeling Father Time sitting on my chest.

Plus, I’m big on DIY and kind of Punk Rock in mindset.

I jammed my brain with information about writing and publishing. Perhaps too much. I knew I needed to get it out. It was driving me crazy. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with well-meaning indie authors squawking about their massively successful books (I am becoming more dubious as time goes on). I have made many, many trips to the post office to mail out books for review, and I sent requests to easily 10 times as many who never responded. I know it’s all a part of the process, but it’s exhausting.

It became clear to me that I had to flush my brain. Purge it of all the advice, all the thinking, the spreadsheets, the self-doubt, the endless patrol of my Amazon and Goodreads pages. (Why, that asshat gave me two stars!) Promoting the book had become more important than the writing.

NOT OK.

I realized it was time to move on and let the damn thing breathe. However I am a completist (you gamers know what I’m talking about) so I felt that I had to at least get through what was in front of me.

I had the last week off work and spent a few hours each day trying to get through what was left of the resources I had gathered. I still have a few to go, and the week has passed.

I am desperate to finish off my list, as I want to move on to my next novel. Plus, I want to drum up some freelance writing gigs (on top of my full-time job teaching) and I have been mulling another blog as well. I’m nuts.

About two weeks ago I came to the realization that I would never be able to tap into every possible writing community or resources. It’s a hydra of epic proportion. Each site leads me to another and another.

Deeper down the rabbit hole.

There are millions of words written about writing. There’s more writing about writing than actual writing. Everyone has advice to offer. Everyone has a service to sell. It is mind-numbingly endless.

I have seen total crap that is apparently very successful. Not many people post about lousy book sales or that their book sucks hairy nads. I have visited a bottomless pit of blogs containing long passages of nothingness, with a shitton of “likes” at the bottom. I have found talented people lost in the digital wilderness (hello, fellow traveler), so much more deserving of attention. I also see people that promote their book from morning to night. I am slightly envious of the time they have for such things, but it is also quite tedious.

I have witnessed much energy being expended. I wonder…

Is this just a bunch of writers trying to sell books to other writers? Is this working? Is this progressing the wondrous written word and the glory of reading? Have we entered a new age of literacy (cause that’s cool).

Or is this a bunch of monkeys humping a football? And if so, what is my monkey ranking? How are my stats? What’s my possession time?

typeI came to another conclusion. I could spend all my time promoting my single book (forever and ever) or I could do WHAT I SHOULD BE DOING – writing the next book, the next article, the next post, the next script, and the next blog. So, I am trying to wrap up this damn promotion thing.

Based on my calculations, I should be done with my list and unless something looks utterly amazing, I ain’t gonna bother. I have yet to really find a fellow writer with my sensibilities (read: weird), except for these Bizzarro writers up in Portland but I can’t figure out their scene. Maybe by making this decision I will miss the one opportunity that would change everything for me and I’ll miss it. I’m telling myself not to even consider that possibility.

I can’t. I’ll spend all my time thinking I missed something. I’m obsessive, remember?

So after much time and effort spent, I now truly understand that there is no road map to writing success.

If Leather is lighter fluid, I’m going to let it ooze through the cracks and maybe one day it will strike flame. I don’t need to be fabulously famous, I don’t need great wealth, but if my efforts lead to a day when I can spend half the day writing, and the other half connecting with people (notice that there’s no full-time job here) and still pull down a decent income, then I will feel satisfied on a daily fucking basis.

Hear me universe! I declare that this will happen!

So another week or two and then that’s it. I’ll do a free e-book day here and there and probably give away a few books on Goodreads. Otherwise, it’s back the to the best part – writing. And poetry. And blogging.

And my next book…if anyone is interested, it’s a ghost story. This time I will be concentrating more on character and story, as opposed to structure and setting. It will be much less experimental in nature.

Love it or hate it, Leather was a bitch to write. A lot of pre-writing. A ton of research. I’m not quite ready to go back. But I will soon enough.

I’m going to knock this second novel out and then return to the weird world I created in Leather. I figure I’ll follow this pattern: weird book > marketable book > weird book > marketable book. Oh, and I have to build some time to do the submitting thing to various journals and sites. I need to spread my seeds of literary corruption.

As I work on my next book, I plan on blogging through the process as well. Many of you have told me that my documentation of the Leather writing process was inspirational. Laugh all you want, that’s what they told me.

Ok, I need a couple Advil.

Lucas out.

Photo Credit: “lapolab” via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Olivander via Compfight cc

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15 thoughts on “A Thunderous Conclusion.”

  1. That’s a great place to arrive at, your decisions about your writing career. I believe you’re spot on, and I’m glad you will continue to fill us in on how it goes with you. I too wish I only had to work parttime and write the other half, but I know that takes much more work than I have put into it thus far. Loved the bathroom picture! You’re on the right path, Tommy!

  2. I may currently be more of a visual artist than a writer, but your “ramble rant” made a lot of sense to me! I have my own artsy ramble rants and I can be obsessive too! Social media, page stats, why does crap art get all the likes? And oh, God, how do I get more followers on Pinterest? Like you, it’s time to give it a rest and make more art! Looking forward to reading more of your adventure!

  3. Dude, first and foremost another awesome post. Your fellow writing community is all the better for it. I hate to sound like an annoying optimist, but this just seems to be part of the process. Whether it is moving on or just ripping off the training wheels, I’m not sure it matters. All I know is your hard work after the whistle (i.e., publishing and promoting) will pay off, with huge dividends down the road. It will make you a better author, even. You probably know more about the publishing industry than 75% of the dinosaurs who do it for a living (no disrespect to anyone here, just pointing out that your knowledge of how it all works will be hugely valuable – even on your sixth novel – you have built that foundation, and no amount of “success” – whatever that means – or perceived lack thereof on your first published book will ever take that away). Dude, you have taken the extra step, and I have no doubt it was worth it.

    Letting your first book (see what I’m doing here?!) breath seems a logical thing to do. Though I’m somewhat dubious of the publishing success stories that are all to easy to read about, I do know that your book is there in perpetuity now. It may find a different path well down the road when you least expect it (read: cult or commercial following beyond your wildest dreams). All I know, is your second novel isn’t going to write itself and there are some of us who are ready for you to get on with it!

    Congrats again – and thank you for taking your blog followers along with you on this journey.

    1. Thanks Dom. I agree with you in that the whole process has definitely been worth it. All of it. And…it’s pretty damn exciting to see so many people going for it. What’s happening in publishing is not much different than what the music industry went through post-Napster. It may one day be seen as a Golden Age of sorts.

      Also…I do have a strange feeling in my gut that Leather is going to hit some kind of nerve and take off in one way or another (you mentioned the word cult, and I can’t think of a better status to have).

      At the end of the day, I think I needed to declare to the universe that it is time to work on the next book and stop worrying if I’m not marketing my book well or hitting enough sites. I have felt quite liberated since I clicked publish on that post. So ready to start the next — and I’m looking forward to yours as well, my friend.

  4. I think I was smiling the entire time that I was reading your post. A lot of that is due to the fact that I’m currently in a similar boat (though possibly a canoe?). I’m trying to get an agent so that I can get a series published and it’s just…….yeah. My best friend has been explaining to me about how, “The publishing industry is changing,” and, “Books are sold on the internet and not in bookstores.” The last quote isn’t verbatim, but it’s close enough to pass. I buy real books. Am I the only one who likes holding them in my hands?
    A lot of the grinning was due to the tone of the post/the title. When I finished editing my series, I learned that saying, “My brain needs a – “ and then accidentally combining the words break and rest does not work out so well. Maybe all writers are weird/obsessive? Maybe that’s what makes things interesting for other people to read? Who would want to read a novel that was written by someone completely sane? Where would be the fun in that? And also, while being obsessive/a perfectionist is exhausting, I think it makes for a very good end result in writing. At least you’ll know your ducks are in a row and that there are no loose ends in your story. More people should try that sometime. Just a thought.
    Anywho, good luck to you in all your endeavors. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play some Borderlands 2.

    1. First of all, Borderlands 2? Awesome.

      Thanks for commenting on my ramble rant. My brain has been twisted in the way that I don’t like the past couple of months. I’m glad there was someone who could relate to the madness.

      There must be some sick drive that puts us on the road to writing. Who the hell would make this choice willingly? And, based on my completely unofficial research on the lifespan of the writer, many seem to meet a brutal demise.

      However, they didn’t have blogs (at least the ones I’m thinking of). I’m hoping releasing the madness will keep too much pressure from building up. I am currently working my way through Dead Island and I need to keep my wits about me.

      Thanks for stopping by. Just followed your blog. I’m curious as to your thoughts on the process as well. Good luck in the Wasteland 😛

      1. I’m sorry that your brain has been twisted, but from what I read it’s completely understandable. I drive myself crazy with my own lists, charts, plans, etc. That’s not including the regular stresses of trying to get published, or just writing a novel in general. Shouldn’t there be a limit to the madness?
        I’m not sure that ANYBODY who writes makes a conscious decision to do so. I think it’s more out of some insane NEED to do it. I can only compare writing to my liver – filtering through all the junk so that everything else can function properly. I could be wrong. Maybe some people make a decision to do it, but how good could their writing actually be if it was based on decisions and not feelings? You can write big words down onto a piece of paper and call yourself a writer, but where’s the heart? I hope that makes sense…
        As for keeping your wits for the zombies…it’s highly recommended. Personally, I prefer Left 4 Dead, but that’s just me. What happened to old school zombie/horror games that used to actually be scary (and looking back, why were the shufflers so terrifying in comparison to the runners nowadays)? I could never play them because it induced this uncontrollable controller-throwing urge, but I loved watching other people play them. I shouldn’t have even brought that up because now I’m wanting to go on a rant (on your comments, which is ridiculous) about the evolution/devolution of video games. That’s a subject for another time and place. I’ll end up writing an entire blog on your comments.
        Well, I hope that blogging keeps the madness under control for you. I’m hoping it will do the same for me as well. Got you followed now and all that good stuff.
        And Pandora always treats me well, but for some reason people try to kill me every time I visit.

      2. And…I’ve always been like this. I started making lists of all kinds and for all purposes when I was a child. A very obsessive mind from the beginning. OCD? Naw, but probably damn close. Whenever my thoughts start sprinting, I start making lists — and cleaning. Seems to be the only thing that settles me down.

        To write and why? I always ask this of my fellow writers. It’s not an easy path. I am compelled to do so. I feel better when I do…and when someone appreciates what I have put to paper, all the better. I’m an educator by day, so I guess putting thoughts out there is what I’m all about.

        Left 4 Dead was a good time. I’m digging Dead Island because it reminds me quite a bit of Fallout 3 which I devoted MAD time to. I know every square inch of the Capitol Wasteland and the VATS targeting system sound effect is permanently fused in my brain.

        Think I’ll pick up a button masher after this one. Injustice looks like it rocks.

      3. I was always the same way. I’ll make a grocery list with zero intention to actually take it to the store with me; it just helps my head to write everything down. Cleaning comes and goes with me, lol.

        I’m looking forward to getting a lot of answers from a lot of different people about their motivations and whatnot when it comes to writing. It’s very interesting – the differences and similarities. It definitely always makes me feel better, which is likely why I started out just writing in a journal to get all my thoughts out.

        I’ve actually never played any of the Fallout games, but my husband has. I’m more of a Final Fantasy kind of girl, but will venture out into FPS when I find one that I enjoy playing. Yeah, you can play some games for so long that you can’t forget any of it. I’m not even going to say how many hours I logged in FF XI before I stopped playing. >.>

        Sometimes button mashing is food for the soul.

      4. Nice. I have always turned to my literary heroes for their motivations. It’s art, so the reasons are massively varied. Some speak to me, others don’t. If you find any gems, be sure to share them on your blog. I’m looking forward to reading your posts.

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