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I usually introduce myself as a writer, not because I make a living writing, but because I spend most of my time either writing or thinking about writing. It might be my obsession. It kind of sucks as obsessions go, though it’s gratefully not illegal yet.

Writing doesn’t pay much of anything, and it’s tedious, lonely work. There is a trade aspect to it, but that seems convoluted enough to prevent most people from entering it. Some writers have agents who take care of the business end of the business. I have an editor or two who welcome anything I submit.

I might be experiencing a bout of late career blues. One managing editor’s been after me for ages to finish a book proposal that refuses to finish. The blockage seems to be my inability to confidently predict who might buy the resulting book, and how I might market the finished work to that target audience. I’ve graduated from my share of envisioning workshops, even facilitated a few, but my radar beeps blank on this one. I also blanch at the thought of branding myself, of assuming an identity as the go-to guy for anything. Who am I to tout myself as a go-to guy?

When The Blind Men (see the Buy My Book tab above) was released, I spent most of my savings hiring a publicist who coached me to write articles explaining the book to people who, sales figures show, had no Earthly reason to actually buy the thing. I even coughed up an obscene amount to receive some coaching on how to be interviewed, most of that advice I rejected as rather silly artifice. This resulted in one (count ‘em, one) telephone interview. I think that interview produced a paragraph in Fortune or Forbes that clearly demonstrated either my inability to explain what my book already explained or the interviewer’s inability to listen; perhaps both.

After about three absurd months, during which my publicist managed to land a choice article placement in the California State Financial Benefit Manager’s Quarterly and I produced a volume of articles whose word count exceeded that of the book, the publicist agreed to refund the remaining retainer and we parted ways. She seemed awfully focused upon dumbing me down, which I finally concluded meant that she couldn’t understand what the heck I was writing about.

You can imagine how I long for a repeat of those good old days. This might explain why my relationship with this much-encouraged next book rival’s The Wicked Witch’s sparky relationship with those ruby slippers.

Professional writing’s a racket. This is no complaint and no real criticism, every profession is more or less a racket. I’m saying that I’m not much of a racketeer. Herein lies a disconnect.

I seem increasingly capable of talking myself out of setting quill to paper. This might be a form of poisoning caused by focusing upon stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with expressing myself. The Muse would call it self-importance. A pre-emptive assault on self, engaged in under the guise of protecting myself from failing to satisfy people who, like my former publicist, couldn’t ever, under any condition, figure out what the heck I was getting on about.

I suppose that this is the price of obsession. The inexorable urge to keep scribbling in an illegible hand, oblivious to the cost and indifferent to the return on the considerable investment, overwhelmed by practical considerations. One prospective mentor asked me after I failed to explain what this next book would be about, “Is this philosophy or something practical?” I missed the opportunity to respond with a courageous and heart-felt, “Yes!” and quietly closed the conversation there.

The heart-felt exemplifies what writing means to me. Why should anyone else care a lick about what my heart feels? Heck if I know. I’m just an obsessive repeating what I know from the outset has about as much chance of sustaining me as a heartfelt investment in a Lotto ticket.

This might qualify as a decent, good-enough description of any art, of any artist. It’s a thoroughly modern conceit that art should generate revenue commensurate to its value to society. Traditionally, before modern times, artists were supported by patrons, people who had more money than they knew what to do with who squandered a tiny bit of it on dreamers. Thanks to modern psychology, obsession has replaced all that.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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