goals / selling / writing

Writing Wednesday: Don’t Get Depressed – Double Down

Problems again finding markets, but by and large keeping my stories circulating to various potential publishers. Plodding away at my blurb rewrites – hope to be done and updated by my August 25th deadline. Blog posts on schedule. Still reading my 5th of 6 books for this year, and my completed stories are still sitting at 8 of 12, since I didn’t complete “Imperial Purrogative” or “Interview with the Blue Neon God”, because YOU CAN’T FINISH STORIES IF YOU DON’T WRITE.

Last week I failed miserably at my “words-per-week” quota – only 84 words (that was on the two days that I actually tried); there were things going on between work and my personal life that made me just throw up my hands and say “better luck next week.” It’s disappointing after seven straight weeks of making my quota, but I WILL get back on that wriding horse again.

Or will I?

One of the things that has been romanticized about writers is their mental and emotional instability. Drug and alcohol abuse. All sorts of neuroses. Depression. I can see how that can happen – especially as a novice, you spend a lot of time sending out work for approval and it comes back rejected A LOT. You’re encouraged to treat these rejections as positive – a metric that shows that you’re following HEINLEIN’S RULES about sending your work out to market – most people who dream of being writers only dream, and never get far enough to allow themselves to be rejected, so it is sort of positive.

But it’s really hard to keep thinking of it that way.

While I was unable to sit and write last week, I had some time for introspection, aided by a couple more rejections, and the blurb rewrites I did for the approximately sixty-seven stories I’ve indie-published showed me how many I’ve taken through the marketing cycle, and have yet to have one bought by a traditional publisher.

Nowadays, being bought by a traditional publisher is NOT the be all and end all of a writing career, and I hear that authors are doing quite well with indie publishing, in many cases better than traditional publishing. I know I’ve done better (since I’ve never made it into a traditional publication, the pocket change I’ve made ePublishing is definitely more than I’ve made in the traditional route. But I read on another writer’s blog (in an unrelated topic) that if you can’t get 400 people to read your book, you’ve failed. I haven’t gotten that many reads if I combine ALL 67 individual stories and my 11 collections. I also have a milestone to celebrate when my combined royalties total more than a typical short story at professional rates; I’m not there yet.

No, I am not depressed – not in the clinical sense. I am an odd, out of place personality type – a creative who is very controlled. When I was acting (another group of generally unstable people), I was always outside the abnormal norm. (As a side note, my day job is in a technical field. We did an exercise about thinking styles years back, and my thinking style is in a minority in my field.) I am a very stable, controlled individual Could that be part of the problem with my writing? (maybe I don’t let emotions come to the surface often enough in my day-to-day existence, and so my writing doesn’t have that passion that the reader is supposed to automatically pick up on?) – you see, there must be a problem, because it’s not selling.

I am depressed in the sense that things have not gone as I hoped (yes, people can be depressed without having depression.

Could it be poor marketing? Sure – I’ve written often about my weaknesses in selling and self-promotion, but I know that’s not all of it. Maybe short fiction is a harder sell than novels, and that’s diminishing the possibility of sales? Maybe. I do know that I’m no good at creating a hook – the thing that grabs a potential reader and makes him want to turn the page instead of looking for a different story to read. I can probably LEARN to do this, but I haven’t made it a priority – I have thus far REFUSED to interfere with the “natural” way that my stories come out onto the paper. Much the same way I once said – “No, I don’t want to do television commercials. I am going to act on the stage.”

I am a stubborn fool. This in itself is depressing.

Will I give up on writing? I was sorely tempted this weekend, but no – it’s too important to me to have the creative outlet, and I enjoy the process. But I would also like to have some validation that what I’m writing is worth something to other people (and making some money would be nice, too.)

I can’t envision myself going back and changing my current stories – I have another (possibly foolish) commitment that when a story is done, it is DONE. I don’t ever have a shortage of ideas. But in the future, I need to help those stories get sold. A recent rejection asked if I wanted advice in story beginnings, profundity, and boosting my prose – this may have been a generic rejection slip, but it seems terribly applicable to my own shortcomings. If I really want to sell, I need to make some changes.

Like I said, I’m stubborn. I never tip my king, even when it’s obvious to everyone else that I should. Time to stop moping about and get to work.

Short fiction does take some time to write, but it’s not anywhere near the blood, sweat and tears that a novel requires. I’ve already put in uncounted hours on Swordsmaster – when it’s completed, it would be a shame if haven’t put in the effort to give it a proper hook.

How will I know if I’m any good if no one reads my stuff?

Just saying…

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BaastardsRevengeCoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing, including his most recent publication “Baastards’ Revenge” (the fourth story of his Herc Tom series), can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books):  https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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