Why Do You Write? II

I've spent my entire life pretending to be someone else. Not just anyone else. I've invented brilliant prodigies, accomplished artists, writers, musicians because they were easier to be than me— nothing.

I grew up at the base of the Hollywood Hills, where most everyone I went to school with was a famous actor or producer's kid, or some rock star's son or daughter. Out of school, they went to work in the Industry—the one that packages arts and artists. I was raised on the notion if I followed my passion it would eventually lead to success, financial success, or at least I'd be able to live, even meagerly, but 11 years into writing to publish and I'm still virtually invisible.

The only thing I've ever loved working at is the fire arts. Drawing, building, designing all engage me, like an entertaining puzzle of my creation and execution. But writing, ah, writing. I've been doing it since I could, putting my thoughts on paper, then on a monitor, making up stories of who I want to be, other than me. More than nothing.

How do you get good at anything?
Practice.

So, I thought I was becoming a good writer. After all, I just spent the last 50 years doing it. OK, since this is the truth, which is so rare online these days, I think I'm a good writer. I read NYTimes bestsellers and a huge percentage of them suck. No offense to the writers, really. In a way, I'm in awe they ever got a book contract to begin with. I read indie authors, writing for a few years, maybe, who've discovered Amazon, and it's obvious, to me, they could use a lot more practice telling a believable and/or engaging story with characters I feel something, anything for.

Like my writing or hate it, you're going to feel something after each read. Mad, Glad. Happy. Sad, but I write to ignite thinking and feeling. What I don't write is the same detective story over and over, or one more vampire tale that's been told a billion times, or stupid and/or silly women, or their analog— hard-ass bitches, or love at first sight since that's lust. What I don't write is what seems to sell the most.

I write Literary Fiction, to a non-literary world. Publishers and popular writers have warned me not to use the Literary genre label since “It doesn't sell.” On Bookbub, their Literary section has the lowest ROI of any of their book recommendations lists.

I learned to write Lit fiction from reading it. Don Quixote, Crime & Punishment, The Magus— one-off stories that do not have sequels, their writers trying to get the reader thinking, feeling, instead of purchasing their next book. My novel Disconnected has taken 20 years of writing and rewriting to get it right, to communicate the turbulence in L.A. in the early 1990s, and expose the facade of the women's movement yet to be realized. The novel invites women to see where we came from, and to think about where we are, and will be in society by the choices we make today. Disconnected is Historical Literary Fiction, but I've been told I should call it Historical Romance...; }.

I stopped doing business marketing, my 'real' career, last April. Decided to focus all my creative energy on fine writing, and marketing myself as an author. And while it's true, more people are reading me now than ever before, it's not ramping the way I'd hoped. No shit about 'Don't quit your day job.' That said, I'd rather live poor and write Literature for the few readers who like unique, thinking novels with characters and ideas that linger, than write what is popular merely to sell books. It's my job as an artist to provoke thinking rather than provide more mindless entertainment to our world already mired in it.  

No comments: