So according to the site I use to maintain my website and blog, I have no posts, no comments, and no traffic. I have often wondered what life would be like if that were true. If I had never followed that thought about writing a fan fiction where Harry got a new chance from the beginning, or if it had stayed the famous ten chapters long.
Where would I be today, if I hadn't written the Dangerverse? I was already writing in Trycanta before that, but let's be honest. Those stories were awful. And if they'd received only the welcome they deserved, I might have given up on writing, decided it wasn't for me, and thrown my energy into my chosen career path of teaching.
Today, some eight years out of college, I would probably be a very burned-out teacher, going back to the school year with resignation and disgust, having been ground down by impossible expectations and exhausted by trying to get kids to pay attention to something other than their smartphones and tablets. (Who, me? Bitter about current conditions in education? What would make you say that?)
Who knows? If I'd been forced out of my own head a bit more, I might even have made more friends, or met that particular someone special. Or maybe I wouldn't have. I don't know, I can't know, but that doesn't stop my brain from taunting me with it. "Well, you've ruined your chances at having a life with all this writing nonsense, and what do you have to show for it? Hmm?"
I have, looking honestly at reactions to my writing, a talent for evoking emotion in spoken dialogue. I also have a gift for creating characters who feel real enough that readers react to them as they would other people, with approval when my characters do what they like, or with anger when my characters behave in ways that are distasteful to them.
More than that, I have the knowledge that my writing has changed some people's lives, mostly for the better. That I have given some of my readers hope, helped them to believe that perhaps a family could be a good thing rather than a bad one, that not everyone in the world is only out for what they can grab, and that humor can be helpful in coping when life is hard.
What I don't have, equally honestly, is a social life, or much of a base of interests beyond my own writing. TV shows and movies overwhelm and embarrass me, most modern fiction leaves me either bored or disgusted, my taste in music is both eclectic and old-fashioned, and I'm so sick of people by the time my workday is over that all I want to do is go home and hide as long as possible.
I also have a hard time keeping up with the fast pace of modern social media. A successful self-published writer ought to be out in the thick of things, Tweeting back and forth, reading Facebook posts and replying to them, Pinning this and Snapchatting that, and so on and so forth. And I just can't. I can barely remember to blog and update the Facebook page most days, and I'm barely following a handful of people on Twitter but my feed still overwhelms me. Which is probably one of the many, many reasons I'm not a successful self-published writer.
A lot of people have opinions about what I should be doing. They range from "read more blogs and ask to guest-post" to "go to author events and network" to "get an agent and submit to traditional publishers". All of which suggestions have one thing in common. I want to hide under my desk at the very sound of the words.
Does that mean I will never be a successful author? That I am doomed to be small-time forever, sweat and bleed over my novels only to find that people prefer the stuff I tossed off in a few careless moments, watch the numbers on the free samples of my work mount higher and higher while paid sales stay at zero, zero, zero? Who knows. Not me, that's for sure.
Forgive my frustration. Sometimes I just need to vent. And if the fact that I vent, the fact that I'm a human being with needs and troubles of my own beyond those my characters have in my stories, makes you dislike me and want to go away... well, that's your call.
Thanks, as always, for reading (especially if you made it through all of that!). Calmer, less emotional posting should resume on Thursday. Oh, while you're here, what do you think of the idea of a Facebook store? I keep seeing the ads for it and it intrigues me, but I can definitely see some downsides as well...