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Ryūryūkyo Shinsai:
Boy Writing (Edo period, 1615-1868)

"Welcome along for the ride!"

I became a professional writer thirty years ago, when I sold an article to a periodical for a couple of hundred bucks. I've been professing to being a writer ever since, though my brushes with actual publication have been infrequent. This distinction between writing and publishing gets to the heart of Authoring, for an author does much more than just write. Sure, writing's a huge part of the profession, but it amounts to little more than a beginning. While writing can be an isolating undertaking, Authoring's much more social. It requires a community to author anything, however hermit-like the writer's habits. Publishing requires emerging from that shell to engage with a broader world. Any introvert worth his temperament should shudder a little at this prospect.

My writing practice seems unsustainable unless I manage to connect to an output spigot.
I've been publishing my product on Facebook for years, and I maintain my PureSchmaltz Blog after a fashion, but my accumulated works now threaten this well-accustomed status quo. My blog master file weighs in at 2.6 gigabytes, huge by any standard, and the software system supporting it has been showing definite stress signs. FaceBook's flakier by the day, sometimes seeming to direct those subscribed to my private Facebook group away from my postings. Various readers have encouraged me to seriously consider switching or supplementing with SubStack, a prospect this writer can't quite figure out how to accomplish by himself.

Publishing physical books has become an exercise in seeming futility. The vast majority of the four million books published last year will sell far few than a thousand copies, far, far below even an overly optimistic break even point. The market for new books hasn't grown in decades. Self Publishing, a misnomer given my assertion about Authoring requiring a community's effort, seems a hall of mirrors designed by and for those with what are presumptively labeled "computer skills." I do not now possess nor have I ever wished to become possessed by "computer skills." I swore when I started using these Barbie and Ken® computers that I would avoid ever becoming anything more than a naive user. I've seen the hours evaporate when people attempt to calculate. Coding's worse. The Muse manages to serve as my guide dog, pointing in useful directions my meager searching skills never manage to discover. I'll probably need to abandon a few of my better-worn excuses.

My thirty years before this mast as writer of first as well as last resort have been satisfying, but less than sustaining. I have been writing until my larder runneth over. I'm just about out of storage for the result. I have "finished" manuscripts which still require collation and proofing, editing into some semblance of final form. I have more than a dozen of these works, each probably better than all the others and needing additional Authoring before they're really finished. If I could stop writing for a minute, for a month, for a year or two, and focus my writer's attention exclusively on Authoring, I might manage to accomplish something with some help from my friends. Stopping writing's not an option. I might just as well resolve to stop breathing. Whatever Publishing I muster will just have to co-exist with the writer in me producing even more of what overwhelms the Author.

I've resolved this morning to focus my next quarter's attention toward Publishing, in the probably naive hope that by the end of this series, I might better fulfill my Publishing obligations. Let that objective serve as my initiating purpose. Who could know what might emerge from this enquiry? Whether I ever become the Author I intend might not matter as much as will asking the hard questions, even if they yield no definitive answers. I will always be a writer. Whether I'll become an Author remains to be discovered. Welcome along for the ride!

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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