Fame

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Singular Sensation.” If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?

I didn’t start writing a blog on WordPress because I wanted a blog on WordPress. I started a blog on WordPress to promote my novel, Martin of Gfenn.

Obviously the life changing result I was hoping for from my blog on WordPress was that my self-published (yet well written and compelling) novel would be picked up by a publisher or, at least sell well enough to make a dent.

People I have met on WordPress have read the book, and some were kind enough to write reviews for me on Amazon. That’s ncredibly helpful to a self-published writer. How did they learn about the book? Through this blog, my personal blog, the one I had no interest in when I started out.

Now on the issue of self-publishing. Personally, after self-publishing two good books, I don’t consider that publishing, not for the kind of writing I do, anyway. Some people have done well for their self-published novels with their blog, their Facebook Fanpage, their Twitter stream etc., but my research into their success has shown me that they write books people actually WANT to read, mainstream novels, mysteries, books that are kind of like crack, cliffhangers, bodice rippers, page turners. That’s not a negative criticism. Those books would probably be picked up by an agent or publisher and by self-publishing, those writers make more money. But for a person who writes literary historical fiction set in obscure historical periods in far away countries self-publishing is not much more than printing. I’d even go further and posit that a person who writes that kind of book isn’t going to be God’s gift to self-promotion. The reality is that self-published or not, the market is the market, the zeitgeist the zeitgeist. Agents and publishers KNOW what will sell. It’s their business to know. I get it and understand how I fit into that. At the moment I have a manuscript, the work known here as “The Schneebeli Brothers Go to Church,” at a small publishing house being reviewed. That’s the best I’ve done so far. I don’t know what the outcome will be.

All this to say that the life-changing result of blogging I want is that my novels are picked up by a good publisher and sell well. That’s it. I know I could write other kinds of books — love stories and so on — but I don’t want to. If art has any special meaning to me, it is freedom, the one arena of life in which I can do what I want to do in my own way. I know I will — and do — pay a price for that, but the question every artist must answer is, “Why am I doing this?” I did not expect the answer to be what it turned out to be, which is, “I do this for the sake of the work itself.” From a distance that answer seems precious and snotty, but close up it doesn’t. Close up it’s me having lived a life teaching others holding to something that belongs uniquely to me.

It would just be nice if it paid off in dollars, but it doesn’t have to. Strangely, this song happens to be playing on my radio right now.

16 thoughts on “Fame

  1. I know I wrote my book because I had to get all the characters out of my head and their story had to be told. It has been told, it is out there and if anyone wants to read it, that is great. It is frustrating to think you have a really great story but no one seems interested. But I say, it’s time will come. We must be patient. Good things come to those who wait (or something like that).

      • Ha-ha – that is true too. I have kind of let my book simmer on the back burner and forgotten about marketing it, I am now kind of in to blogging and exercise (go figure) – and thinking about my next book that will most likely sit in the depths of Amazon as well(but my first book will have a companion, it won’t be so lonely).

  2. I have always found your writings about you as a teacher very interesting. Why not have a go at this in a new book? The one other aspect was the time you spent in China. The third option is your biography. Looking forward to all of them in one book or three of them.

    • Thank you Sheen! I write about teaching on another blogging site — Medium — and that’s been very rewarding for me and, I think, meaningful not just to me but to young teachers. This past winter I realized I could never let go of teaching and I had learned much that is useful during my 35 years in the classroom. As for China, so many people (even back then) wrote about it, that I don’t really have a lot to add. As for my own story, I don’t know yet. Many people write memoirs. I’m not sure how I feel about my memories and I’ve also noticed that my real-life experiences appear in my fiction. My book, Savior, has a character who is my mother. It was a very strange experience watching her emerge into 13th century Switzerland. I appreciate your thoughts very much — I don’t know what I will want to write in the future and I’m trying to keep an open mind.

  3. I would like to know more about your teaching site. Medium- is that it to find it on net? I am sure it will help me in my teaching profession. I pray for your novels to be best sellers.

  4. I’m very much in tune with your feelings about self-publishing, and I’m not nearly so kind! Some of the self-published material I’ve been researching is, on the whole, good to excellent. Some of it.

    Unfortunately, a fair number of the ebooks I’ve been reading have plots that probably started out as good ideas but soon devolved because the authors not only couldn’t write very well, couldn’t punctuate, and had no idea what verb tenses are, but because they didn’t bother getting professional help with the nuts and bolts of writing. It often looks to me as though they figure if they add enough sex scenes, the book will sell. Maybe they’re right. Their books do sell, apparently.

    There seem to be a good many readers out there nowadays who don’t care about such things as plot, grammar and punctuation either. I’m not one of them. Like you, I’ve discovered that I write because I love it, and that’s enough for me.

    I just deleted the rest of this comment because it morphed into a rant about self-publishing. Perhaps I’ll put it in my blog. 🙂

    • I want to read the rant!!!! I just posted a post script (ha ha) to this post. As I was writing it, the publisher who asked to read the manuscript I have been querying let me know they want to publish it. Irony again.

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