Saturday, February 11, 2012

You = Us

As any writer will tell you, solitude is our natural working habitat.  Writers are alone in their crowded little heads, even when sitting in a to-the-gills-loaded Starbucks or a library full of book lovers and millers-about.  No matter how many peeps fill the walls of where a writer writes, wordcrafting dictates that you be head down over your keyboard (or your banana-yellow legal pad, for the old-schoolers out there) for endless hours planning your plot lines, engineering your environment, cobbling away at your characters, until they become more familiar to you than your barista or your ‘brarian. 

And sometimes: your own kids. 

Not often, but sometimes. 

And if any of you work in a manner similar to mine – and I’m a common animal, no doubt, so I’m sure this is true of us all – you’ll generally find yourself reciting new dialogue in your car, afraid to let it go because it came to you in a moment of mid-traffic brilliance and you just can’t trust it to be in long-term memory by the time you reach your laptop.  Or you’ll be in the midst of a perfectly fascinating real-life conversation with an Awesome Someone, but wandering mentally back to your own little world imagining new scenes and situations and hoping said Someone won’t think you a douche if you yank out a Sharpie Fine Point and jot a few notes in your palm while they talk.  Sometimes, they might even think you're writing down what they’re saying, and they slow their roll so you can catch it all.

So cute when they do that. 

Time is at such a premium for everyone these days that you might even engage in the exercise of Mental Authoring, whereby, during moments of thought activity drop-off, you entirely zone out your surroundings and pick up a story thread in your brain to follow it down the pike just to see if you can move your WIP forward without having your tools handy.  I do this in that empty autopiloted stretch called My Drive to Work.  I do it as I dodge errant Hondas and feral house cats while jogging through the ‘hood.  I do it while I’m making my kids lunches, and as I’m standing in line at the store.  I do it all the time.

All.  The.  Time.

And even after every last word of the first draft is put on paper, I do it some more during the editing process, because when am I going to find a solid span of hours to pore over my work and smooth out the rough edges in one felled swoop?  I’m not.  And so the game becomes Mental Editing, for another however-long-it-takes to finish the damn thing. 

You could power a small nation on the mental energy it takes to write one stinking book. 

And then, guess what?  If you’re indie, and you’re handing it over to an outside editor, you’ll be doing it all over again, though hopefully with a reduced workload if you’ve already self-edited.  Either way, though, it comes right back to you.  And then?  Tag - you're it.  AGAIN.

But wait!  There’s more.

Formatting for publishing to Amazon/Barnes/Smashwords/iBooks?  That’s you.

Crafting a compelling description to snag new readers?  You, too.

Putting the smackdown on a marketing campaign that might include – but not be entirely limited to – a blog tour, Twitvertising, Facebook virtual flesh-pressing, e-mail carpet-bombing, book signings, et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseum?

You, you.  And you. 

All you.

No matter how much you may love writing – and, let’s face it, we wouldn’t go through all of this if we didn’t actually love it – it’s a damn lonely endeavor, for sure.  To a certain point, it's all you.   

Which is why it’s such a beautiful thing when you becomes us.

Every time someone takes a chance and buys a copy of your well-told tale, you becomes us.

Every time a blogger hypes your holy word to their acolytes, you becomes us.

Every time a reader graciously takes a hard-earned minute to review you, reTweet you, share your Facebook post with their friends or otherwise Pass It On about what you’ve created, you becomes us.  For publishers on a corporate level, with the means to shove their author’s “product” down the eyes and ears of the world en masse, a handful of cyberfolk pushing for a micropublished author may seem like small potatoes.     

To an indie author reliant upon word of mouth to share their story with the world, it's the biggest fucking potato you could ever hope to harvest. 

It’s no small thing for readers to have access to your blood-sweat-and-tear-stained story in their hands or their eReaders; for them to want to share the love and help your story reach others.  For you as an author to find other authors who appreciate what you do as much as you appreciate what they do, who understand you because they are you.  And you are us.

See how that works? 

Powerful stuff.

Huge thanks to everyone out there who has a hand - or even so much as a finger - in what indie authors and micropublishers are trying to create here.  And much love to everyone who helps make someone else’s dream come true - and in no small way, because there truly is no small way to help with something like that. 

And sweet gratitude and appreciation to everyone out there who fits squarely in the category of us.

And if you’re reading this, that means you. 


1 comment:

  1. Great post, and I couldn't agree more. As indie authors / readers, the people around us are an invaluable resource.