The things I sacrifice for my writing

You’ve heard of shotgun weddings. Well, this is a shotgun blog post.

It has been some time since I posted new material here, I know. I put humor writing, social media, and hobbies on hold this past year or so to focus on my dramatic works.

You ken it’s serious when I still haven’t watched the most recent two seasons of Outlander.

After nearly 20 years of practice, maybe 15 of those serious, I find my path as a writer at a most difficult stage.

I feel I’ve worked my craft enough to try—soon as I’m done with this round of edits—to begin querying agents.

After all, I’ve penned four novels (unpublished), two humor essay collections, a book on religion and philosophy, a 110-000-word memoir no one will ever see, a couple hundred poems, stacks of journals, and at least 3,000 news stories in addition to I-don’t-know-how-many editorials, anecdotes, and pieces I’m not really sure how to classify.

Not to mention that piece I sent to Penthouse Forum roughly 20 years ago and didn’t bother saving a copy of when it was published.

Thing is, now I’ve actually begun submitting my work this past two years—something I had avoided out of sheer terror these decades—I see more and more agents and publishers demanding a writer have a robust “author platform” consisting of scads of Facebook and Twitter followers, as well as a highly trafficked blog.

I don’t have any of those things. For whatever reason, I’ve had real trouble with engagement.

It can’t be my sparkling personality, can it? Well answer me you bastard!

When people like celebrities with zero writing ability are able to land big book deals, it’s obvious just how important the platform is.

To make matters worse, I impatiently went ahead and self-published a few books in recent years.

It was lazy.

It was stupid.

And it is forever … since Amazon will not let you take a book off its listings no matter how much you beg or swear … or promise to love them longtime.

To make matters worse, I read not too long ago that it can be difficult to get a book deal if you have self-published stinkers hanging around on the internet.

Just call me “Skunk Boy.” Melville would be proud.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve perused the articles of tips on how to build the author platform, which on paper looks surprisingly like an old English gallows.

I think I understand the science (?) of it: Dancing bear + Drunk uncle over Video = Likes squared [DB+DU/V=L2]

I even stooped to sitting in on a few webinars and purchasing some e-books from “authors” who said they could help turn me into a star, just as long as I paid the extra $99 for the undercoating.

Their answers all turned out to be sales pitches to buy more webinars and e-books.

I get it. I’m supposed to generate fans so that, when I get a book deal, I’ll have a preexisting customer base. But, first I need to give people a reason to become fans.

Sounds simple enough.

That might work if I was a teen mom with a sassy catchphrase, or a sexy single lady looking for love from a gaggle of rich bachelors, or even a drunk idiot from New Jersey with big hair and a spray-tan.

But, I’m not.

I’m just a middle-aged hypochondriac with bad teeth and a spoiled dog.

I don’t see anyone making a reality TV show around that. Then again.

I don’t have a dancing cat or a llama who does long-division or even a parrot who sings heavy metal.

So, what can I do?

I hired a couple beta reader services to critique three of my novels, the ones I finished over the last few years.

I’ve been submitting short stories to various literary magazines at the rate of about one every three weeks or so.

I know I should do more. I’d like to pump out a new short story and submit weekly but, between the full-time newspaper job and writing novels and allotting myself a hefty portion of time to read, there isn’t much time left.

If only I had some magical time-travel fairy stones like in that one show I’ve been neglecting to watch.

Alas, I’m not about to give up but there are several times each week when I ask myself, and my poor patient wife, if this quest to publication isn’t an insurmountable one.

Then I sigh, eat a peanut butter and orange marmalade sandwich, read a chapter of a good book, and go back to writing and revising.

I’ve also decided to start blogging more about my journey because the experts, the ones with the pricey seminars, say this will make you love me.

I don’t know if that’s true.

I mean, I love burritos but I don’t follow them on Facebook.

Although, I did dedicate a book to Taco Bell—no foolin.

I follow Joe Scarborough on Twitter but I’m not about to buy any of his books. Well, maybe if it was a picture book featuring Mika in a bikini.

Anyways, if you do end up loving me, maybe you’ll buy my future books. You know, after I’ve passed through Craigh Na Dun into the land of generous agents and cash-flush publishers.

And maybe we can get a burrito together. A haggis burrito. You know, before I become too famous. I mean, we’ll each get our own burrito but at the same time.

That’s all for now.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the kitchen loudly sighing and making a PB&M sandwich.