On Writing Fiction

Am I two inches from the floor I can’t see, or the next step is a 200 ft drop?

Been fighting myself over this since I started writing fiction. I face this battle every damn day I sit in front of my laptop, the cursor blinking at me, waiting patiently for me to decide if I should quit fine writing today, and go back to writing copy, because unlike continuing to write fiction, a ‘real’ job will get my kids through college.

Then the voice of Fantasy taunts: “It is possible if you keep writing and marketing your fiction that you’ll get well known enough to make a living as a fine writer… I could be an inch from the ground right now… it’s possible…”

This voice is evil. A demon. The idiot in my head that keeps me fine writing. People who’ve read me, and contacted me with praise, they too encourage my stupidity, bolster my Fantasy voice that spurs me on to continue writing fiction, even though I don’t make any real money at it, and likely never will. The more I’m purchased, or even just read online, the more I’m ripped off. Hundreds of affiliate marketing sites pop up when searching my name now, offering downloadable PDFs of my work. Free.

I dream of making fine writing my sole focus, market only my books, and quit taking on marketing gigs. But I don’t. The smarter part of me knows that focusing my creative energy fine writing puts me precariously on the precipice of that 200 ft drop in income.

I write to be read. So, not making an income, as long as I’m read, which I am more and more, wouldn’t really bother me, except I need money.

My Fantasy demon goes to war with my voice of Reason daily. The battle goes something like this:

What needs to get done today?

Well, you should get the, ­(fill in current project), stuff started/done.

Or, you could write The Power Trip.

Hmm…

Fantasy is so much better than reality. It’s why I write—to escape here, into a world that’s never boring, tedious, tiring, like the real one is so often.

I’m told by selling authors that I should pick a genre and write religiously to that genre to market myself more effectively. In fact, series are even better. I must write series. Romantic detective series, or dystopian fantasies with a strong female lead, as women empowerment is all the rage for the foreseeable future. Over the last 10 years I’ve been writing to publish, I’ve watched genre and series writers become known using the Freemium marketing model. Give away the first in the series and charge for the next book, and then spend the next ten years writing the same basic tale with the same cast of characters over and over.

Shoot me now if being a successful writer means traveling the Freemium series road. Fiction should evoke feelings, thinking, create new ideas (like H.G. Wells, whose words have been actualized into today’s tech). How can an author hope to achieve this, focused on production writing for sales, instead of substantive content? I want to read about complex characters in the first book, learn about them, from them, and about myself. I don’t want to read characterizations where actual people never emerge from the repetitive story line.

My Twitter profile says: Novelist. Essayist. Realist. Idealist. A recent follower inquired how I am both a realist and idealist simultaneously. “Doesn’t that make you, well, like crazy?”

It’s true. I’m crazy. I get it. And it’s also true that between Fantasy and Reality is the Grand fucking Canyon. The problem is, I can’t seem to get off the wire of Hope that bridges them.

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