Reasons to believe…

Okay– sort of a weird couple of days. I’ve been writing along, waiting from word from my first two beta readers and searching for reasons why I write.

I mean I KNOW why I write. The voices in my head won’t leave me alone–I might as well do something productive with them. I just mean… why? Why do I keep writing the shit I want to? In spite of my hopes, odds are good that it really won’t get picked up by a larger publisher (because they’re dumbshit asshole fuckheads with no sense of business or taste, but that’s another post) and I think the people who know me and love me would forgive me for not finishing the series–especially when I think I could actually make money and write professionally for some of the e-pubs I’ve made contact with. I know another self-published author who is kicking ass on because she’s written to formula (unlike myself) and I’m sure she’ll be snapped up in a minute while I’m still pimping my bizarre combination of sensibilities and techniques to whoever will listen. I could make money if I did what everyone else is doing–wrote to genre specs and word limits etc. Right now, I make just enough money to keep going–(and pay my property taxes and hopefully fix the damned car.) I mean, why continue to self-publish my own little fish in such a big indifferent pond?

Well– a couple of reasons, actually.

First of all, *I* want to see how it will end. I mean I KNOW how it will end, but I’ve got four books worth of plotting in my head, and some really beautiful moments that I can bring to life. The only one who can write those moments is me. “Seeing your dreams become truth” doesn’t get much simpler than writing your own stories.

Second of all, *YOU* want to see how it ends. Writing for my self is nice, but writing for the surprised “Ooohhh…” or “That was COOL!” or “Wow! Thank you!” is incredibly rewarding. I’m not sure if it would be quite so rewarding–to my readers or myself– if I was writing for someone else’s vision.

Third of all, well, I’ve got the following:

Thomas Paine– Thomas Paine was THE bestselling author of the colonial era–he wrote a pamphlet titled the Crisis which was in more households than the Bible. Pain’s next endeavor– a treatise on a belief in rationalism (or a rational God) got him kicked out of the country. He found refuge in France, and when the political situation shifted he was promptly imprisoned. Thomas Jefferson got him freed, but when he died, the fuckheads in America were still so deluded about Rationalism (they thought he said there was NO God) that they wouldn’t let him be buried in a churchyard. His remains ended up in an antique dealership in England. If anyone is proof that your best work can be SEVERELY understood and that the public is a fickle bitch, it’s Thomas Paine. He wrote with passion and conviction–in the end, that had to be enough for him.

Washington Irving–Washington Irving’s first endeavor (I forget what it was called!) was greeted with enthusiasm and applause–but Irving still couldn’t quit his day job. He spent a lot of time being a lawyer and a diplomat and such, mostly so he could travel to Europe and revel in his success. Unfortunately, his second work (which had, among other things, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle in it) was not so beloved in his lifetime. Irving kept writing, but not fiction. Imagine what he could have done if he hadn’t been discouraged.

Edgar Allen Poe– Edgar Allen Poe sold ‘The Raven’ to a newspaper for $10. That’s all he ever got. Ever. The entire fucking East Coast was memorizing this work for parties, teaching it to their school children, and Poe died of alcoholism and despair at the age of 44. Getting published for $$$ and being popular do NOT guarantee success and happiness.

Emily Dickinson– Emily Dickinson published seven poems (out of more than a thousand!) in her lifetime. The poems were so badly fucked up by her dumbshit editors that everything that was fine and original and cutting edge in her work had to wait until her estate published the poems after her death. Editors can make shit sweet and pretty, but they can also take a filet mignon with bordeaux sauce and put it in a blender with reconstituted spuds and frozen vegetables. Authentic voice in spite of traditions and conventions really IS worth the bullshit.

Walt Whitman–Walt Whitman’s perennially re-written magnum albatross, ‘Leaves of Grass’ was self-published. Whitman had a distinct voice, poetry without rhythm, pure imagery. I forget the name of the high and mighty poet (I’m thinking it was Oliver Wendell Holmes, but I could be wrong!) who threw his self-published copy of the work into the fireplace, but I know that Ralph Waldo Emerson said Whitman would be the future of America’s voice. Whitman never really did achieve public success–he just kept plugging away with his originality and his lust (he was bi–no wonder I like him!) and his passion and his zeal–and finally everyone knew him. He was America’s ‘Old Gray Poet’ which pissed him off, because, dammit, he’d put a lot of effort into being young and rebellious. But it doesn’t matter. He published his own work, caught shit from big names, and his words echo in our ears long after his death.

William Blake–William Blake saw visions, talked to angels, was so intense that upon meeting him his future wife literally PASSED OUT and yes–he published his own work. He spelled shit wrong on purpose, challenged conventional religious beliefs, said flat out that the God who made the Lamb ALSO made the Tyger, and dared the world to think outside of religion, science, and fuckheadedness. And he did his own illustrations, and they’re haunting. And so’s his work.

And I could go on–in fact, when school starts up again (three weeks from today, fuck you very much, NUSD for that short assed summer break!) I probably will. But you guys get the point. Commercial success does NOT equal quality. Editing does NOT equal depth. Being famous does NOT equal happiness. And the opinion of the average public sheep very often does NOT equal sheep-shit. All very compelling reasons for me to continue to write what I love, as well as I can for as long as I can, right?

0 thoughts on “Reasons to believe…”

  1. Galad says:

    Absolutely! The stories that live in your head are begging to be told. No one can do that better than you.

  2. Donna Lee says:

    I think you write because not to is unthinkable. Like any artist, the words would gather in your head and you would explode.

    and school in three weeks? whose bright idea was that?

  3. roxie says:

    Also, because if you prostitute yourself for any length of time, I will come down there to Sacramento, kidnap you, lock you in a motel room in the woods with a computer, a printer, and a couple reams of paper,and de-program your sorry mind. And Mate will have to cope with the dependents as best he can. So, for their sakes, don't go there.

  4. Julie says:

    Thanks for that. I haven't written in a year (not for profit), since a bad go-through with an editor. I very definitely got the blender and frozen vegetables treatment. Today you wrote just what I needed to read.

    As for why we write, I think it's got to do with having a super-active brain and needing SOME outlet, whether we build a whole new world and populate it with characters, or whether we babble on our blogs about cyanogenic glycosides. Either way, it's letting some of that swirling electricity in the old brain, out.

  5. fawatson says:


    You know I like the way you write; I have bought all your books and plan to buy the next one as soon as it is published. So I am not saying this because I want you to conform, or want your writing to change in any way.

    However, quite a lot of commercially published authors managed to create great works while conforming to the conventions. Take Charlotte Bronte, for example: Jane Eyre was in many ways a very conventional novel. The story she used was a well-known romantic formula of the period. She transformed it into a classic.

    Publishers need to make a profit to survive. They turn down manuscripts for all kinds of reasons every year. In some cases what has been written is excellent, but just is not likely to have a wide enough readership to be commercially viable. If they don't sell enough copies they go bankrupt and that helps no one. You, as a self-published author, know how little profit the average book sale actually generates. So do publishers. Commercial publication does not equal 'bad'. Most of it is pretty good, in fact. It is just 'safe'.

    As for self-publishing: Well YOU are GOOD, but not all self-published authors are. Some of those people who write tosh, who are properly turned down by mainstream publishers due to poor quality, turn to self-publishing because they cannot accept that their work is dreadful. YOU are NOT one of this type. But it isn't easy to find the good ones in amidst some of the rest (many of whom holler louder than you do).

    I hope you aren't feeling too battered by all this. Just in case you are in any doubt, let me say again: YOU are GOOD and I DO NOT want your writing to change.

    But I did read Bitter Moon I and sigh as I thought you missed a good opportunity to publish commercially with it. In so many ways it fits well within the conventions of that genre, which would have made the subject matter appeal to a mainstream publisher and 'overlook' the quirky 'special-to-Amy' qualities that make your work unique and wonderful. The first novel would have divided in two, so very easily and naturally, and then you might have found a publisher to give the first half a go, and once it took off, he'd have published the second half without question. Once you were established with that novel, then you could have suggested your 'backlist' of little Goddess novels.

    Oh well! (gives a deep sigh)

    I've gone a bit off topic. My point remains: I agree you should not sell your soul just to get published mainstream. But there is no particular virtue in self-publication either.

  6. Littlewitch says:

    Not to mention Michelle, Jess and I. It isn't as if we've lost the torches and cattleprods, you know. You make me laugh and you make me cry and you can't take Green and his people away from me. I won't allow it.

  7. NeedleTart says:

    Yes. I laughed, I cried, I wrote F&^K! in the margins. Since starting the happy pills I have found it hard going to tell myself my little stories (never mind about whom, but the well is dry and bricked over). I NEED yours to fill the romantic/weird/fantasy hole in my evenings. Keep writing. We're out here waiting……

  8. katfish184 says:

    Keep writing!!! I'm missing your books… may need to buy another set cause I sent mine off to my sister in Iraq. I've read The Goddess series multiple times and laugh and cry and absolutely LOVE them each time. I love Cory and Green and Bracken and Adrian and the world you've created and shared with us. Thank you for your blog on how you will continue writing *sigh* I started freaking out and thinking you were trying to let us all down gently lol I am thankful that you write for us and share your world. I wish the frackin' publishing world would wake up and publish you- but I wouldn't want your stories to be dumbed down so- like I said thank you for continueing to write for us.
    (((huggs))) Kat
    PS. Acck! my simpathies on school starting too soon! How the hell did it get to be the end of July? lol But- Supernatural is back Sep. 10th

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