Anne B. Walsh - Do you believe in magic?

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Anne's Randomness

Keeping my balance

Anyone who writes, or anyone who reads, for that matter, should be familiar with the concept of the balancing act. Stories are, in so many ways, made up of delicate balances. Characters and plot, conflict and comfort, humor and drama, all need to be constantly rebalanced against one another to keep the story-machinery working.
As if that weren't enough, there are also balances affecting the author of those stories. Balancing writing with what is sometimes called a "real life" is one. As much as I would love to simply abandon myself to the pursuit of my story ideas, to chasing down those elusive little metaphors and similes, to wrestling with my characters until they give up their secrets, I need such mundane things as food, clothing, walls, warmth. And at the moment, the writing does not provide those for me.
Having a day job isn't all bad. It keeps me from becoming a hermit, and provides an endless stream of conversational nuggets and plot ideas (because trust me, if you have ever seen it in one of my stories and said to yourself, "How did she think that one up?" odds are it's straight from life), but it's also time-consuming, frustrating, and wearying.
Could that same set of adjectives be applied to writing? Yes, of course it could, but at the end of the day, writing is productive. After I'm done writing, I have a story. Or a poem, playlet, chapter, whatever. It may not be a good whatever, but it's visible, tangible, real. My day job doesn't offer any feeling of success or progress in that way. Whatever I'm doing now, I'm going to have to do again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.
But, of course, the day job offers a paycheck, and the paycheck keeps the lights on and the food in the fridge and all that good stuff. Also, as much as I love the feeling of accomplishment which writing gives me, writing is kind of sterile unless it's read. And... forgive me, O readers, but it's true. Where my fan fiction had thousands of readers, the originals I've worked so hard on, and that I love so much, have an all-time audience of maybe a couple hundred, worldwide. Unless someone bought copies and then made them secretly available to lots of people for free. Which could be happening. I don't know.
Someone I'm very close to has been asking me things lately like "Would you be willing to keep writing even if you knew that you'd never become successful, or that it wouldn't happen until after you were dead?" I think this person may be trying to drop what Jo Rowling used to call "anvil-sized hints" on me, and I'm not quite sure what to think of that. I would have to work just as hard not to write as I do to write, because the stories are so very insistent to be told, but it's discouraging when even a person I love very much seems to feel that failure in my lifetime is a given.
This does seem the time to recall that a little over a year ago, I said here on Anne's Randomness that I was going to continue with my current writing model, self-publishing and no overt marketing, for one more year. That if I did not begin achieving some measurable success by that time, I would start considering other options, other avenues. Which might mean trying out traditional publishing, and that, in turn, might mean that I would have to take down the Dangerverse.
Do I want to do that? No, of course not. But might I have to do that, in order to make a living doing what I love? It's possible. It would even be poetic. Not happy poetry, but then, the good stuff seldom is.
This is not a threat, not even a warning, just a musing on possibilities to come. For the time being, the Dangerverse stays where it is, and there will indeed be a DV Christmas story this year, probably called "The Most Dangerous Time of the Year" because that's just how my crazy brain works. And I'm very, very far from giving up on writing, or publishing my writing, or someday making a living at it. But I may have to make some painful choices in order to get the scales to balance.
That's just life, though, isn't it?
Thanks, as always, for reading. More news as it develops.

4 Comments to Keeping my balance:

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Haminac on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 10:56 AM
I can understand how it must feel like defeat if you said "I wanna do it differently" years ago. Namely independently. But still I see no shame in realizing something doesn't work as planned and then changing tactics. That can also mean you are not too stubborn/arrogant to realize your "wrong". My experience is that family doesn't want you to live your dream first and foremost, they want you safe. Which is great and good because it means they care. For me who has an ocean and a lot of wires between us it would be easy to encourage you to pursue your dream and let nothing come between you and it because what does it hurt me if you fail? For them you are important. Of course there's different kind of families, this is only what I preceived as the most usual case in my life yo far. Of course it would be a shame if the Dangerverse had to vanish but if it meant you could make a living by your books it'd still be great. Maybe once your published there's other ways, other possibilities, who knows. Anyway I think it would be an experience to let your work be judged by "professionals", as painful as it may be. I think you should try all ways you can morally justify if it gets you where you want. But again - easy for me to say. I hope you find a way which feels right for yourself.!
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Natasha on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 12:04 PM
I think you should do what works for you. Self-publishing is hard work, hard to promote and hard to sell. Traditional publishing is hard in a different way. Heck take the Dangerverse and twist it original, if a twilight fanfic can turn into a bestselling (albeit bad) series of books like 50 Shades of Grey, Dangerverse could be a bestselling and GOOD series. I promise the Dangerverse as is would live on much like Cassandra Clare's Draco Trilogy, which you can still find after her publishers made her take it down.
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Geoffrey on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 10:19 PM
I suppose it has been a year, hasn't it?

I assure you there are paths to achieve your goals, but none of them are easy. I agree with she-who-shall-not-be-named: something needs to change (though, of course, I don't agree that you should give up your dream). I emphatically disagree with the idea that you should settle for smaller dreams. And I would still like to help you, though I don't know what sort of help you'd be willing to accept.

First, what is your main obstacle? Do you feel you need to write more? Better? Or get more readers? If you had more readers, are your stories good enough to spread by word-of-mouth? Whatever the obstacle, I promise that it can be broken.

Second, what do you feel would be the most beneficial thing to move you toward your dream? What would help the most? Time/money? An editor? An agent?
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DangerFan845 on Friday, January 02, 2015 9:49 AM
I get the feeling that you really don't enjoy spending 9 hours (not counting the commute) of your day at your current job, so why not try job searching for work in the publishing industry? Your administrative assistant position at a financial institute has nothing to do with what you obviously really want to do with your life but you need a "day job" that will pay the bills. Understandable. Since you need "a real job" why not kill two birds with one stone? Rather than working in an industry where you have no interest in furthering your career, work in one that at least has something to do with what you're really interested in. Sorry to say, but your current position is an entry position anyway so it's not like you're going from manager to gofer. If you try for a job in the publishing industry, at least you're doing something semi-related to what you really want but more importantly, you'll have a better chance of meeting people who might be able to help you with you with what you really want to do. Start building your connections, because they don't appear overnight. You don't have to use them right after you established them, but having the option available to you is better than not having it. And the chance to gain a little more "insider" knowledge isn't going to hurt either. If you're serious about wanting a writing career, then work on it proactively. Not just on nights and weekends, but during the day and weekdays too. You have 9+ hours you can be putting to better use. The way you're thinking about it, it's make it or break it. But in reality, it doesn't have to be all or nothing; author or secretary. I don't care if this never gets posted or I never get a public response (btw, the email is fake so don't bother emailing), but just give my advice some consideration. Just because I want to remain anonymous doesn't mean that what I said isn't valid.
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