"Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being."
~ A. A. MILNE
A number of events have transpired this past week to impress upon me just what a hobbyist author I am... Not that my sales figures don't keep that fact firmly in front of my eyes! But no, I speak of other things. I have a friend and fellow author who recently stated that he is so thoroughly immersed in writing that he left the work force in order to follow that pursuit 8 - 12 hours a day. Several people have informed me that a true writer can sit down and crank out 10,000 words at will, regardless of mood, illness, pain, surrounding aggravation, or whatever. Yesterday I was approached for an interview by a host from an internet radio show who said I had been recommended to him by a mutual friend, and that was the catalyst that got me thinking about all this as a whole.
Basically, I had to ask myself what I have to say to an audience expecting a guest to provide them with some profound insight into the life and philosophy of a writer. My honest answer has to be not much! The last time something like this happened to me was in January of 2014. Beyond the Rails had just been released, and I was offered a signing (not out of the blue; I had been talking with them before) at a local shop called Mysterious Galaxy, a San Diego bookstore specializing in fantasy and scifi. I thought this was cool as all get out until I looked at their calendar. In the month of January alone, they had scheduled a who's who of the genres that included award-winners and best-sellers, some of whom had been my idols for years. If I owned a bookstore, I would consider getting their January lineup to be the crowning year of my ownership. And they were going shoehorn little ol' me in between two giants of the field. Yeah, no thanks. The only question I could envision their clientele asking me was, "How did you get in here?" I passed, as I have passed on the radio show. I'm not that guy.
You see, my life doesn't revolve around writing. There are too many other things that life has to offer for me to spend 8 - 12 hours a day with my nose glued to this keyboard. I have a family that I love very much. I was just getting good at blues harmonica when I had to get an upper denture; I have a lot of work to do to get back to where I was, not to mention move beyond. There are dozens of Xbox games I haven't seen the end of, and hundreds, thousands of books and movies await my attention. There are places to see, dishes to try, and this keyboard isn't going to provide any of them.
Due to my lunatic sleep patterns, I rise hours before the rest of the household. Well, except for Dude the Insane Beagle, and once I give him a couple of treats, he's out for the duration. Anyway, I typically have up to three hours to spend at the keyboard, and that's plenty to pursue a hobby. I can knock down a scene, turn out a blog post, or put up a book review, and my girls never miss me, because they're still asleep. Anyway, that's about all I can do in one sitting. Right around the three-hour mark, my fingers go numb, my brain turns to mush, and anything I force myself to produce after that is just wasted material that I'm going to have to throw away anyway.
So you see, I'm a hobbyist. Writing is one of many things I dabble in. I don't use professionals because I would be in the hole forever. $500 for a cover would equate to a couple of decades before my book made enough money to break even. I have a camera and some steampunk gadgets. You can see the gadgets on the book covers; they were taken with the camera. Likewise editors. I have a reading group that catches most of my mistakes, and I've painstakingly taught myself the rules of grammar and composition. I go with about three rewrites, after which I find I'm changing things back to the way I wrote them in the draft, and if the comments and reviews that the series has received are any indication at all, it's working.
So, yes, I'm a hobbyist, and I'm good with that. I still get goosebumps when I check my dashboard and discover a new sale, and the thrill of reading a good review is positively orgasmic! I'm not convinced it would be the same if I was getting twenty a day. Most of my author friends are young, and still have stars in their eyes. I wouldn't do a thing to take that vision from them, and I hope with all my heart that they succeed, but I'm where I want to be. If the series suddenly takes off, I guess I'll have to reevaluate, but I don't anticipate it, and I'm not unhappy right now, today. How many people can say that with a straight face?
And that brings me to what I've accomplished this week. I have gotten another chapter up for my reading group, bringing it to nine completed in draft; fifteen to go. I am also nearing the end of an excellent book, Festival of Death by C.W. Hawes. The girls are going out this afternoon, and I'm going to try to finish it then. If I succeed, I plan to post a review on Punk Fiction tomorrow. Be there, it'll be worth it. I'm also driving the outline for a future project that... Never mind! Just hang around. I'll get to it.
Well, that's 30 for this week. Be here next Thursday when I'll be regaling you with thrilling tales of God-knows-what! Until then, read well, and write better!