Thank You, Mr. Bukowski

Bukowski2    I’ve been wrapped in a funk for about a month now. It’s got its arms all over me, has tightened its hold, and is in the process of devouring me head-first. I feel very much like the illustration in one of my Gerald Durrell novels I had as a kid, the one where he went to the Amazon, wrestled an anaconda, and nearly lost his life.

Strangled. Smooshed. Suffocating.

That’s me.

Add nasty and horrible bitch to the list and I think that pretty much sums me up as of late. Gone is the carefree woman coasting on some good writing juju – au revoir! – forgotten are the smiles and laughter and excitement – ciao! – lost is the confidence and belief in myself and my capabilities – adios! I feel like a shell of the person I was while I was writing The Sanctum Trilogy and sitting here, stewing in my office, I figured out why.

The whole time I was writing the trilogy, I firmly believed that by the end, when the three books were complete and people were able to read it non-stop in its entirety, it would sell and I would see some success. Not anything major where I could contemplate leaving the life of lawyering, but enough success to feel like I was getting somewhere in this literary game. Especially when coupled with all of the other stuff I do online – the blogging, the interviews, the tweets, the events – I just thought something would click.

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HA!

Joke’s on me.

I haven’t sold shit.

In fact, I think with each book I’ve written, my sales have gotten worse, my reviews have decreased, and it’s all amounted to one big zero – despite the fact that I think my writing has only improved and the story line only gets better as the series moves towards its culmination. Adding insult to injury is the fact that I’ve hired people to help me promote the trilogy and even that’s made no difference. It’s still under everyone’s radar, if it was ever on anyone’s in the first place.

Then today I received a rejection from InkSlinger PR, letting me know they had read my materials but didn’t feel I was a good fit with their firm. Which is really their way of saying they don’t like my work and certainly don’t want their name associated with it. And as I sat there and hoped that email was the third bad thing for me and my writing – since bad things come in threes, duh – because I wasn’t sure I could deal with any more negativity, a funny thing happened.

I heard Charles Bukowski in my head  – so you want to be a writer, motherfucker? – and I laughed.

Literally.

Out loud.

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I could hear him crystal clear, with his gruff smoker’s-drinker’s voice, giving me a dirty look and saying:

if you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it

And he’s so right.

No one might be buying my books but who fucking cares. I didn’t even bother linking to them in this post because seriously, no one is buying them – some fucking hyperlink to Amazon isn’t going to change that reality. And you know what? That’s life. Don’t get me wrong – of course, it’s lovely to have your ego stroked by the masses, to have strangers adore you, but it happens to the rare few, and if completing The Sanctum Trilogy has taught me anything, it’s that this go ’round, I’m not going to be invited to the table with the cool kids.

So I just have to get over myself and move on. No matter how good I think my trilogy is, I’ve got to let it go and put all of my energy into my next project. Because the other option, the not-writing-at-all option, well, it’s not really an option.

I can’t NOT write. That’s simply not going to happen. If there’s a day that I don’t write, I feel off, not myself at all. I must write. Even if it’s just a few lines, each little bit counts.

So thanks, Uncle Chuck, for not only being my nasty, dirty, perverse, grumpy, fucked-up muse and inspiration, but for also telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself, cut the crying, and get back to the art of it, the shit that really counts, the blood, sweat, and tears part.

And maybe one day if I keep at this long enough, people will take notice and start buying my stuff. Until then, I’ll be here, sitting at my laptop, typing up all the fantastical shit bouncing around between my ears and every so often, letting Uncle Chuck give me a good berating, yelling out a nice, loud, gravelly

so you want to be a writer, motherfucker?

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8 thoughts on “Thank You, Mr. Bukowski

  1. When I get to feeling like this, I remind myself that Stephen King wrote a pile of books before he made it big, and Dean Koontz has a similar story. It’s the rare Veronica Roth and Stephanie Meyer who land a big one first time around.
    And like you, I firmly believe that writing is vitally important to my mental health. I don’t do it every day, but when too many days fall between solid sessions, I get this pent-up feeling like something is trying to crawl out of my neck.

    • You’re so right and just this evening I attended a We Need Diverse Books panel and some of the writers on the panel spoke about how they were only published after book 5 or 6. Which I suppose means I better get to writing!

  2. Ha! I love that Bukowski quote. In fact, I just love his vulgar ass. But on the real, I sympathize with these feelings at least once a day–between waking and sleeping. I could spout all sorts of platitudes and tell you it will pass, but honestly that’s all bullshit. These feelings are just part of being a writer. Yes, we do it for the love, but sometimes a little bit of recognition in the form of dollar bills helps…A LOT. But most of the time we just suck it up and do it anyway because what is the alternative?

    Insanity?

    • I think even more than the money, I’m just upset no one wants to read the books, mostly because I love them. It’s not about the money – I just wish I could my book into more people’s hands. I think that’s what bummed me out the most because I love my characters and their story, but like I said in the post, it’s time to push them to the back of my psyche and move onto the next crew of misfits. And thanks for not spouting platitudes – totally not in a listening-to-platitudes mood. xx

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