I found something more cutting and disheartening than getting rejection from literary agents. My book sales numbers. I just got my Q2 numbers back and yeah, um, not the fly-off-the-shelf numbers I would have liked to see. At first, I was laid low. But then, I got some perspective. Very few authors are ever going to get the Harry-Potter-Twilight experience. Very few even get the midlist, big-publishing house experience. Most writers write a book, several hundred people read it, and ten minutes later it’s at the Goodwill for 10 cents.
However, instead of getting a dozen donuts and watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I went mountain biking. And I haven’t mountain biked in months. So there I was, huffing and sweating and puffing and cursing the mile I rode up the mountain, climbing, climbing, climbing, when a walker came by and I stopped, er collapsed, to let him walk by. And we had a typical exchange.
Walker: Hard work, huh?
Me: Yeah. Brutal, but fun.
Walker: Good for you though.
He went on by, I clipped into my pedals and continued the climb and it struck me; the writing game is good for me. All life is a struggle. That’s one of the themes in my novel, The Never Prayer. Maybe you are one of the lucky hundred to have read it.
All life is struggle, and me struggling in the writing game is valuable to me, to those around me, to other writers. It’s brutal fun. And it’s good for me.
The story doesn’t end there. So I’ve been watching a lot of House M.D. I’m struggling through season 8 to get to the finale and God only knows why they didn’t keep House in prison for half the season. House in prison was delicious.
So while I’m biking, I’m conceding that the writing game is good for my psyche, however painful and however much of a struggle it is, and I think about House M.D. and happiness. House believes that only people who lie to themselves can be happy. That life is inherently too difficult to be enjoyed.
That may or may not be the case. However, having a dream, having a goal, believing the lie that maybe, maybe I’ll be one of the lucky writers to break through and make it, well, it keeps me going. It doesn’t keep me happy, but in the better moments, it keeps me satisfied.
And maybe satisfaction is enough no matter what my numbers are.