Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time to let go

I love writing.

I hate the business of writing.

I have a really good friend, Gae Polisner (you can read her blog here, and here). She's a fantastic writer. Got a sweet book deal with a world-famous publisher. Her book is getting glowing reviews all over the place. Librarians, teachers, students, critics. She calls it her "quiet little book." She even learned at least one school district is going to be using her book as part of their curriculum next year.

I tell you all this not to sell Gae's book for her, but to show the side of the business that just doesn't work for me.

Gae is still beating the streets trying to get a second book published. How can this be? How can you have a book that gets huge critical success, and not be able to get another deal? It doesn't make sense.

The answer is: Unless you're New York Times Bestseller stuff, you're still nobody.

Gae is a New York attorney with contacts beyond anything this simple boy from Kansas City will ever have. Gae can hop in her car and run to THE city (yes, THE city) and talk to agents, publishers, book critics face-to-face. How am I supposed to compete in a market where I'm so isolated from THE scene (yes, THE scene) that I couldn't talk face-to-face with an agent, publisher, or critic unless it were for the Bovine Monthly Review?

This business isn't designed to reward the author.

Years ago, I used to have a writing partner (Ron Brown) with whom I shared goals, manuscripts, scribbles and scratch. We were chasing the dream. We kept telling each other, "This business is designed to weed out the ones who don't have the heart to keep going. But we're going to make it. We're going to be strong. We WILL persevere."

That was a long time ago. Too many years. And now I have to admit, this business chewed me up and spit me out. It proved I don't have the heart to keep going, to be strong, to persevere.

And, so, I'm not chasing the dream any longer. I love writing. I'll write for me. I'll write for my kids. I'll write because I like to tell stories. But no more chasing.

I hate the business of writing.