Blog Away, but above all else, Write

Let’s face it, the process of becoming an author nowadays is time-consuming, no doubt. No longer can you simply sneak off to London like Charlotte Bronte and drop your quill-penned manuscript at the publisher’s. No, you must build a platform, be blogging, Google-Plussing, Facebooking, Twittering.

Of course, part of what makes it so time-consuming is that one must learn the technology first.  And this technology is a shape-shifting beast; no sooner does one master Facebook or Pinterest than a new form emerges.  It’s enough to make you curse Steve Jobs and all his cohorts.

Age is, admittedly, a factor for me personally.  I’m no spring chicken, and technology is akin to swimming in this sense—you need to be thrown into the pool at the age of one, not 50-plus.  If it’s a sink or swim contest, I suggest you put your money on the one-year-old.

But hey!  I’m trying, and all the while I’m not losing sight of what I’m really here for, to write, bring up what lies at the core, express all those ideas and themes that have been expressed since there was papyrus to scratch on, only in my own manner, style, with my own words.  Because there are no new ideas in the world, only new people wrestling with them.  And the beauty is in the wrestling.

The Lighter Side of Rejection

I have a writer friend who, like myself, is trying to get his first novel published.  At the start of his quest for an agent, he’d say, “Now this is the fun part,” and I’d think, “Yeah, like cutting off your own hand with a chainsaw fun.”  I haven’t heard him repeat that phrase lately, but it’s interesting in one sense.  Any writer who can elevate to the level of “fun” the grueling and painful process of getting a book published should feel seriously accomplished, published or not.

I’ve noticed that when I think about rejection in the privacy of my own home, I’m pretty hard on myself; I’m either a moron or lazy or simply not a very good writer.  In public, I swing wide the other way; I tend to euphemize the whole process to the point where I don’t recognize it, or myself.  I manage to reduce publication to an aside.  To others I might say, “just writing a novel’s the main thing,” which is not untrue.  It feels great to have written and polished a novel.  But then, I do want someone to read it.  Thousands of someones.  Which takes publication.

This sometimes happens: I run into a friend who remembers I’ve written a novel, and she asks, with a glitter in her eye (you know that glitter), “Have you published your book yet?”  For some reason that question always strikes me funny, as though not yet publishing my book were simply an oversight, like I just forgot to do it, like how I might forget to buy eggs or pluck my eyebrows.  Oh yeah, heck! I should do that, wow, thanks for reminding me!  Makes me vow, as I watch the friend’s departing back, to slit my own throat before I tell ANYBODY else ANYTHING about my novel.  A vow I will forget after the pain goes away.

So how does one not get depressed when one’s book isn’t sold?  For one thing, if no new effort has been made, no new depression is warranted.  In actuality, the depression comes from the static, big, dough-ball of inactivity, in which things, not good things, roll around and microscopically join forces and sour the whole mess, because nothing is truly static.  Things degrade and deteriorate if left alone, like the raccoon on the side of the road.

So here, do something, I say to myself.  Explore new agents, pour over pitch books.  Journal like mad.  Write, about anything.  And if at the moment nothing excites me, fine.  I can write about unexciting things.

Back to my writer friend.  He has a unique way of avoiding disappointment.  In essence, he pre-rejects himself, so there are never any surprises.  When he queries an agent, he says, but not in so many words, “this is my book, it is what it is, and screw you if you don’t like it.”  Hmm.  This tactic may not get his book picked up, but there’s something unequivocal and solid in the water-off–the-duck’s-back attitude. It’s certainly a way to feel in control of the situation, if control is what you’re after.


P.S.  I’m not talking about self-publishing here, of course, which is an entirely different ball of wax, with its own beauties and sticky points.