For a self-published indie author, you’d think there would be no happier day than this. After all, I spent an awful lot of time writing this story, and when that was done, I spent even longer proofreading and editing and rewriting, and when that was done, I formatted and uploaded that story and then had to proofread and edit and rewrite all over again. It’s been said that art is never finished, merely abandoned. Well, I finally abandoned my work, and now anybody in the world that wants to do so can click a link and purchase a copy, and already some of them have.
The thing is—and I’m probably not supposed to tell you this—there have been happier days.
You know what was a good day? The day I found my current typewriter. My first drafts are always done on a typewriter. First drafts are simply word vomit. I have things in my head, and they need to be on a page, and so for me first drafts are simply me throwing up everything in my head and letting it splatter across the page. If I do that on a computer, I stop mid-vomit to try to clean things up. I begin editing before I am done writing, and that just messes me up. Most recently, when I was in the midst of a trying patch of writing, I found an Olympia Report Electric in near-mint condition just waiting for me at my local thrift store, and for fifteen dollars I brought it home and plugged it in. As I banged away at those beautiful keys, I found a solution to a particularly trying chunk of my story. That was a good day.
You know what else was a good day? The day I woke up at 3:45 a.m. for no real reason except that I was wide awake and I suddenly knew what had to happen in Part Three. I slipped out of bed and found my warm slippers and snuck downstairs to write. By noon, I had fifteen thousand words. That was a really good day.
Today is not one of those days. The problem is that during all of the previous days—all of the good days and all of the horrible days and all of the boring days when nothing much happened—this book was mine. I thought it was worthy of my attention and efforts. I enjoyed spending time with it. I didn’t always think it was going well, but I always loved it.
Now it belongs to anyone that wants to purchase a copy. Having to share it means that it has every chance of encountering those who will never love it the way I do. Maybe they will love it in their own way, and I hope that’s how it goes. But it is equally possible they will hate it, or be ambivalent about it, or start it and decide that they don’t want to finish it. They could even review it, if they felt so inclined. They could write reviews of praise or damnation, and there’s nothing that I can really do about it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Turning a book that was mine alone over to any member of the general public that wants one was pretty much the point. I’ve been working for more than two years to bring exactly this moment to pass. But whether it gets read by six people or by six hundred thousand, the book isn’t only mine, anymore, and that’s got me in more of a funk than I imagined it would.
I’m not a parent, and I don’t equate what I have done with parenting in terms of its importance, but I imagine this must be what it feels like to have a child leave home. You’ve done the best you can, and you really want good things to happen for them, but for all your preparation you just don’t know what your child is going to be. You still love it—after all, that child is yours—but now pieces of it will belong to others, as well.
That’s what I’m going through today. My book is leaving home, and hopefully it leaves as prepared as I could possibly make it be, but pieces of it will now belong to others, and I have no idea if they will love it as much as I do.
I don’t know what you do in this situation if you happen to be a parent. I am grateful to only be a writer, where the solution seems much clearer.
It’s time to write another one.