That’s a very good question. I’m talking about writing books. Like many of my peers, I self-publish my stories. The main reason, I suppose, is control. Nobody is cracking a whip. I’m not trying to attract the interest of a publisher by going through the horrible submission process (I’m too old for that). I get final say on my covers. Oh, and I’ve had my fill of draconian contracts and publishers going bust. AND I’ll add that I’ve had my fill of the ‘rules of writing’ and all the things you ‘have to do’ to market your work. Bah and humbug to all that shit. I’ve reduced my social media commitments. I took myself off a number of websites I never visited. No more Bookbuzzr, Authordb, Triberr and LinkedIn. I’ve removed my Twitter account completely, due to lack of use.
Do I make any money from my nine novels and various shorts? The answer would have to be a resounding NO. Especially when you factor in the cost of paying for a professional cover, and professional editing. And, in the past, advertising. I believe in doing it properly, you see. I hate trying to read books riddled with typos and horrible mistakes like “he drug the body to the edge of the creek”. Or “lightening flashed across the sky”. Or “she parked her space ship in the hanger”. You get the picture.
I might make a thing about one-star reviews. But lots of people have done that. I find the easiest solution is to not read the reviews. It’s not my job to monitor what readers think. I know lots won’t like my work. That’s fine. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. There are plenty of books I did not finish (life’s too short to persevere with something that doesn’t resonate – I did enough of that in English Lit at high school). A few people do enjoy my scribblings, which fills me with pleasure.
So given all that, why DO I bother?
Because when I get into the rhythm I enjoy the process. It isn’t easy. It’s never easy. The words don’t fly out of my fingertips. I tend not to plot, just create my characters and a starting point, then ask them what happens next. The further the story goes, the easier it becomes. Stuck? Just have a one-on-one chat with the characters. Or the villain. Or get into the detail of the universe we’re in. And don’t bother with whining that the Muse is on holiday or you have writer’s block. I’ve had no urge to write for most of a year. I pushed myself to start a new book, but now it’s moving along, it’s challenging.
There’s something magical about creating a world that doesn’t exist anywhere but between my ears. It’s wonderful to imagine traveling between star systems, and the interactions between humans and aliens. Every time I read about another scientific breakthrough – another exoplanet, gravity waves, 3D printing miracles, new nano-tech capabilities, carbon fiber, self-driving cars etc etc I pause in wonder and absorb another detail for the creative process.
Mind you, the situations and the interactions between the inhabitants of my make-believe worlds are deeply influenced by the behaviour of that most murderous of species – us.
So I’ll keep doing it. Maybe I’ll be an Overnight Sensation some time. Or probably not. Writing keeps my mind active. If it’s a hobby, so be it.
If you’re interested in what the latest project is, I’ve put up a few snippets on the Space freighters’ Lounge.