Film still of James O'Neill as Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo, a 1913 film.

"I've decided to escape."

I've managed to master about ten percent of a writer's craft in that I seem to be able to write. Raw writing, though, might amount to no more than ten percent of the craft, the other ninety percent being related to all that happens after the writing's done. Editing's in that ninety percent, but so are all the activities related to distribution: promotion, publication, and, I suppose, personality, wherein the writer projects a more pubic persona. Simply writing's a fine occupation, though it pays no bills and without some broader distribution, realizes little reach and influences few; not that writing's only justified if it influences, for it's possible to restrict a writer's work to only influence the writer or just a few close acquaintances, but a broader presence seems essential to fulfilling a writer's potential. Writing's a share the wealth sort of enterprise.

Approaching, let alone mastering writing's tail end ninety percent has always been my dread, one of those activities I wouldn't mind having done, but seem to have no passion for actually doing.
This partly stems from my naturally Ah Shucks self-effacing temperament. I do not consider myself or my gifts, such as they are, to be all that noteworthy, and promoting my work feels about as authentic as masterminding some sleazy pyramid scheme. It seems at root dirty. I'm nobody's salesman and do not aspire to become anyone's salesman.

I might be suffering from the effects of employing an ineffective metaphor, for I might describe that back end ninety percent as something quite different from a sales effort. I have not yet stumbled upon a more effective metaphor for it, though. Time spent dreading never qualifies as time well spent. If I didn't secretly aspire to master the back end ninety percent of writing, I suppose that I might have just forgotten about it even lurking there, but I haven't forgotten and I remain filled with dread whenever my mind wanders over to consider it. I feel like I might have been selling myself short, like I might be denying some broader audience the satisfaction of experiencing my work; at root a shirker.

I have started innumerable efforts to overcome this phobia, each time retreating back into my cave. Now, with the world suddenly overfilled with genuinely lame excuses, seems a uniquely unpromising time, for the publishing business has suddenly become just as disoriented as every other business. I explain to myself that nobody's probably seeking new authors, though I cannot know whether that's true without poking a few sticks into that apparent darkness. Unpromising times might serve as the very best times to restart any serially failing initiative, for this effort might be better prepared to fail than succeed, anyway, and should it somehow succeed, imagine how much more remarkable that success might seem.

So I've started plotting a Breakout, another attempt to escape the limitations I've grown far too accustomed to. I'm enlisting unlikely allies and proposing Bright Ideas, and feeling the energy of fresh latitudes. Week after next, I will finish my twelfth manuscript in three years. This might represent requisite volume and variety. Before, I held fewer finished works. Now, I might hold too many. You, dear reader, have been sampling portions of these works over the past few years. Many more might join you in a freshly foreseeable future. I've decided to escape.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus