Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to Work


Yes, it has been three full weeks since I have written anything. Well, anything much.  I put a post up on my main website—a throw-away post which, for some unknown reason, garnered 10 times the usual amount of traffic—and continued my weekly 450 words for Pond Parleys, because that is an obligation I take seriously.  But otherwise, nothing.
Instead I read, surfed writing blogs, visited Kew Gardens, researched, exchanged a few e-mails with my agent, played Pooh Sticks on the actual Pooh Bridge in the Hundred Acre Wood, went to a book festival, toured a bird sanctuary, had a brief but illuminating conversation with Meg Gardiner, bought my wife a Kindle for Christmas (don’t worry, she doesn’t read this blog) and thought a lot about my writing career.
After weighing all the facts at my disposal and checking all the angles available to me, I have decided, once and for all (and for now), that self-publishing is not a path I want to pursue.
I don’t regret my recent detour; the result was a champion book that looks, feels and reads like a “real” book.  And despite my claims about low sales, when compared to the other 99.9% of self-published books out there (the ones not cranked out by the self-pub prophets), my sales were actually above average.  So I have nothing to be ashamed of.  I just don’t want to do it again.
This also does not mean that self-publishing is not what you should do: this is a highly individual decision.  Go make your own.
Having been distracted by the bright and shiny baubles that we writers now have at our disposal, I am back with the basics, back to the only thing that ever did matter and ever will matter to a writer—you and your manuscript in cage, fighting it out to the death.
You can have all the electronic wizardry, spelling and grammar checkers, formatting, PhotoShopping, One-Stop publishing and direct marketing programs you like, but in the end, if you haven’t wrestled you manuscript to the ground and made it submit, you have nothing to work with.
So, having ignored my work in progress for nearly a month, I walked back into the cage with it this morning.  Turning your back on it is never a good thing, as it grows in your mind to something terrible and fearsome, but when I sat down and opened the document, the fear subsided, and the beast rolled onto its back and let me rub its belly.
There is nowhere to go now but forward.

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