Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Lovely Tumult

Hello Reader!  How are you?  Good?  I hope so stranger!  It's been too long since I've seen any of you, talked with you, wrote at you.  I miss complaining about my lack of progress, my ineptitude at plotting and the absolute drudgery that is school.  Now I've already mentioned that I was taking a four-week writing workshop course that has really helped me step forward in my writing.  I've never been so halfway inspired by anything.

The reason why I say halfway inspired is actually the theme of this post.  The woman who taught the workshop was called VJ Waks and she's self-published two novels - Tau 4 and Hammerspace.  She's quite the forceful lady, very self-assured and capable, without a shred of doubt about anything.  It's incredible to see this, but it's also troubling.

I guess they know their audience?
She knows she's a good writer.  She believes it whole-heartedly, in fact she speaks about her talent frequently.  During the workshop, not very many - no, I correct myself - zero works from other authors were used by her as an example of good writing.  What did she use?  Her own novels.  I get product placement, and I get the easiness of just picking up your own book, whose contents you know like the back of your hand, and using it to give examples of good writing.  But there's a terrible amount of pride involved, no?

I hope she wasn't completely a creature of hubris, because she is very much like me.  Ms. Waks began as a neuroscience major, eventually getting her master's degree in Neurobiology.  WHAT?  I know right?  How eerie that her journey mirrors the potential path I would like to follow.  Her novels are science fiction, the genre I'll probably be put in should I publish.  She gave up her neuroscience career to write, and she loves it now.  She thoroughly enjoys her life.

This guy wrote Moby Dick.  No one knew that when he was alive.
But she self-published.  Why?  I don't know.  To be honest, I don't care.  Because what troubles me is that I have no clue what makes her different from me.  So what, I'm writing science fiction.  So what I've got a story, sprawling as it is, about a young man troubled and struggling.  SO WHAT.  At the end of the day, there's nothing that makes me different from her.  She's not "struggling" by any means, and when you read reviews of her work there's no denying that she's got quality writing skills.  She's only got one non-five star rating!  Then again, for two books she's got a grand total of 14 reviews.

Why isn't someone this good, with this kind of talent, more popular?  Because all she's got is herself?  Well then why didn't an agent take her on?  What didn't they see?  Marketability?  This begs the question of whether or not I'm writing for money.  Which makes me pause.  Because I'm not really sure what I'm writing for.

I feel like this kid a lot of the time.  'Cept not for coloring.
I've never really articulated the reason.  I just write.  It's just in me and I just want it out.  I want to stop imagining these things as my life, these characters and battles and passions, I want them excised from my mind.  On paper, on my computer, whatever.  I'm not writing for high art, but then again popularity is something I dearly seek.  Neither am I writing for money, but a sustainable job is another thing I crave.  How can I achieve these things if someone far better than me can't make it without resorting to taking odd jobs writing for companies, family members, lawyers etc.

Obscurity is what I fear, and what I'm writing against.  God damn it, I don't want to fade into obscurity.  I don't want to end up has some has-been science fiction writer teaching workshops with only two or three people attending in some tucked away part of a university with an all-html website with nothing but 14 reviews to my name. I'm making no progress in this blogpost so instead of a satisfactory denouement, I'll leave you with these last few desperate words.  Obscurity terrifies me.  And the business of my life keeps pulling me into that black hole of fear and doubt.

So I guess the workshop did great things for my book, but few good things for my ego.  Until next time then.

1 comment:

  1. Ha, Reza, you're going to be fine. The biggest problem I feel is the fact that she went the self-publish route. It just doesn't get you the publicity that traditional publishing does. Think about it: Penguin Publishing takes you up and when your publish date comes up, you are in EVERY major bookstore at the same time in the country. And in a lot of smaller ones. That's a lot of "screen time". You could theoretically make best-seller status just by random people picking up your book from the shelf with those odds. Self-publishing involves a lot of crawling and climbing up from the bottom of the heap, and forcing people to pay attention to you.... some people pick that route because they are scared of rejection, whatever.

    You'll get picked up by an agent and get out there. :) You will be less obscure than you fear. I just can't predict popularity because, well, which books become popular really confuses me.