I’ve finished (finished? ha ha ha ha) the edits on The Schneebelis Go to America aka The Price. It’s been a long haul but I don’t think I can bitch with any justification because no one is making me do this and it’s a purely elective and rather minor activity in the grand scheme. In the scheme of my life, though, it’s pretty important, I guess.
I don’t think the book is very good, but I’ve done what I often do, I’ve gone to a self-publishing platform and I’m “publishing” one copy so I can see it as a book and do a read through in a different format than this screen or 8 1/2 x 11 pages.
I’m still not sure if I’ll go to the trouble of trying to sell it. The books I’ve already written didn’t (and don’t) sell so why would I?
Am I discouraged? No, not in the least. Since 1998 when I began writing Martin of Gfenn (that’s 20 years ago) I’ve gone through a very wide range of experiences as a writer. I suppose it’s a kind of maturation. Martin of Gfenn is my best book, but it still has typos. The other two novels benefited from professional editing. And I consider My Everest to be another thing completely.
I can’t answer for why other people write. I write because I like to, that’s the biggest thing. If it works it’s just a lot of fun. When I was teaching, writing was a thing apart from hours and hours in the classroom, and it was something at which I could succeed on some level. Teaching remained a career where I never got tenure and constantly taught part-time — not my fault, it didn’t mean I was a bad teacher, it just made more sense economically for schools to hire part-time vs. tenured faculty. That frustration and relentless impotence about my future was good training for submitting novels to agents.
But there are other audiences and different successes. A few years ago I decided I wanted my one remaining (in her right mind) aunt, the youngest of my mother’s sisters, to know who I am. I had a very intense feeling she needed to know that I was OK, that I have a good life and a little something about what I do. I sent her Martin of Gfenn which she loved. I followed it with Savior and The Brothers Path and explained that those two novels were fiction based on what I knew about my grandma’s family — my Aunt Dickie’s mother’s family. — our family. She loved The Brothers Path and had her church book club read it.
Her last letter to me was March 2017, and in it, she told me how the book club had liked the book and what was going on in her life. And she asked me to keep writing the story of my grandma’s family. Whether this book is any good or not, my Aunt Dickie would have liked it. She died just before Thanksgiving last year.