There are workmen in my house. We communicate through nods and smiles. They’ve put plastic almost everywhere and taped up all my stuff, which simply means that I won’t be practicing the piano this week. Which means I might be embarrassed, again, when I try to accompany the choir on Sunday.
I’m held hostage in my room. My dog is trapped in the backyard. When the dog does come in the house, her toenails puncture the brown paper covering the carpet. She runs, scampers really, on the paper and she sounds like something from a Stephen King movie I saw back in the 80s or 90s – a whats-it that ate time. The Langoliers, I believe. I’m not sure why I’m writing this. I’m sure no one’s particularly interested in the comparison of my dog’s toenails to a fictional creation of Stephan King.
Tonight I’ll be reading a section of my novel to my writing group. I know I’m lucky to be with them. I find it remarkable I’m the president since I often feel that I’m the fat bottomed child at the bottom of the talent totem pole. So, tonight I’ll read. They’ll critique. They’re almost always kind and yet, there are times when I wish that Longoliers would come and eat me and my poor writing up. Times when I wish that all I had to listen to is the sound of my dog’s toenails puncturing paper. I handle critiquing that well…
And that’s the rub with my self-publishing plan. A few years ago, being published could be equated with a pat on the back or a star on the forehead. Self publish and the pats and stars go away. If someone with clout, real or paid for, thinks my stuff is good enough to make it out from under the bed, then it must be, because, look there I am, on a shelf at Borders and Barnes and Noble. I must be good. Or, since I’m not on a big B shelf, I’m just a big bottomed girl anchoring the other talents on the totem pole.
But (and that’s with one t) times and the industry have changed. Ships are going down. The big B’s are closing their stores. People are throwing around F words (like fraudulent contracts). And opinions are shaped around how many people download your book. (But, wait, couldn’t someone with a ton of money buy oodles of their own books to steer themselves right up the Amazon lists? Have people been doing this? Now we’ll never who’s good and who’s a big fat bottom totem-poler.)
A romance writer who has more than a 140 million books in print, supposedly once received a letter from a woman who said, “I don’t like any of your books. I’ve read them all and I didn’t like any of them.”
I’m going to self publish without a single expectation of a pat or a star and if someone hates all of my books but reads them all anyway, then I won’t ask for anything more. When I accompany the choir and they sing one note and I play another, my skill and execution are fairly, glaringly obvious. Maybe it’s the same for writing, but if it is, I’m not hearing it.