Saturday, July 17, 2004

Book Talk

Michael Blowhard, of the always thoughtful 2blowhards, has some advice to those who, like me, dream of writing a book:

You say you've got a story to tell? Well, why does it have to be a book? You'll burden your life with a tedious project for a couple of years, you'll probably overstretch your material, and then no one will read the results. Why not realize your project in a manageable and pleasurable way instead? Put in a month of writing, keep it to a compact length, and post it to the Web. (There really aren't many stories that need more than 50 pages.) It's certainly true that no one may pay attention to your work despite its being out there on the Web. But at least you'll have told your story, enjoyed the process, made your work available -- and you won't have ruined your life, or broken your heart.

I've been trying to write my book for the better part of four years now. I actually finished it, sort of, I just wasn't thrilled with the results. The story was good but it could be better. But at this point the prospect of rewriting it for the sixth time really doesn't appeal to me, especially considering all the obstacles that stand between me and a fruitful contract with a publisher.

According to Michael, who is knowledgeable about these sorts of things, there's only a few hundred authors who make a living at their craft. That's a few hundred out of hundreds of thousands. Now, I've grown out of my delusions that I'll be the next Neil Gaiman. While I really enjoy writing, I don't think i'd like the stress of his schedule. I've been reading Mr. Gaiman's blog now on a daily basis for two years and he's always busy, working on three or four projects at a time, screenplays, short story collections a new novel, jetting off to this conference and that convention. It just sounds a little too hectic to me. And what with the disastrous state of contemporary publishing, my odds of even getting an agent or publisher to look at my manuscript is next to zero.

So, I'm taking Michael's advice. I've been leaning in that direction for some time now anyway. I'm going to write mys tories. they'll be short stories or novellas and when they're finished, I'll post them on an adjacent page for the reading pleasure of my visitors. You can read them and if you like, make a donation.

And who knows, if there's enough interest, and once I have enough stories together, maybe I'll self publish a book and sell it here on the blog. That would be enough for me to realize my dream of being a published author, without all the hassle of dealing with the crooked industry more concerned with bestseller status and profit margins than telling a good story.

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