Musing on Brooding

I’d like to start this entry with a confession: I am a moody guy. Not one of those ‘fly off the handle’ types, who find any arbitrary reason to spout obscenities and yell, scream, or curse out my frustrations. I tend to go in the other direction, which is to say, I brood. If I get thrown one of life’s curve-balls or make a mistake I’ll get quiet and insular and turn over the issue in my head over and over, sometimes until it’s barely recognizable. But here’s the thing: I like brooding.

Let me try to explain.

On Tuesday I complete the first draft of my novel, Ain’t No Redemption, which should have had me jumping for joy, I assume. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud that I’ve completed the 72k + words that are draft one, but I know that the project as a whole is far from complete. Still, I thought to myself, I should celebrate this accomplishment. And yet I couldn’t seem to bring myself to pat my own shoulder or even go for the wonderfully self-indulgent self-high-five. Something was weighing down on me…

Over the next few days I did everything I could not to look at my manuscript, fully intent on keeping some distance from it until the new year. At first I just took a break from writing, jumped on to Youtube and watched a whole lick of UFO sightings (yes, I am a bit of UFO junkie, but that’s a topic for another post). That was my Tuesday, but by Wednesday, the brooding fell.

I was looking through self-publishing options, the ones I was already familiar with (such as leanpub) as well as print on demand options. Now, while poking around leanpub.com, I spotted a number of NaNo Novels up and ready for purchase already! How the hell were these books up so soon, and I’m still so far away from being ready to publish that the light of publishing takes 100,000 years to reach me? Brooding Level One was achieved.

Next up I was checking out jukepopserials.com, where they’ll publish your manuscript one chapter at a time. This seems like a cool platform, with the option for readers to not only vote for their favourite stories (and thus heighten the chance of the author receiving  a cash reward),but also has the option for readers to donate to the author to help support them. Very cool, I believed, until I saw that only American authors were eligible. Okay, that’s not so bad, I’m more worried about exposure right now, I told myself. Yet the mind is but the sum of many aspects, and the part me that absorbed all of my grandfather’s and mother’s business sense was dissuaded : If I’m going to make anything out of this indie author thing, shouldn’t I expect to get paid, at least a stipend for my work? So, while my brain warred back and forth, I attained Brooding Level Two. joy.

And now we come to the print on demand options…what a crap shoot! I know that there are authors out there who’ve experience success with POD companies, like CreateSpace and Lulu, but the more I looked into them the more I realized no matter the option I pick, I was going to have to fork over quite a bit a dough if I wanted this to be a quality publication. Cash that I just don’t have at the moment. After reading some less-than-glowing client reviews from people that have used these options, I started looking at some traditional publishers. I learned something important while doing that, something that I’ve heard before, but needed to see before I could truly appreciate: Canada is sorely lacking in publishers who’d take on ‘speculative fiction’. Oh, if you’ve got a contemporary or historical piece of fiction, there are pubbers out there who’ll salivate at what you have to offer. But, if you’ve got a Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel, well too bad, ’cause they aren’t gonna touch such ‘pop fiction’. Yeah, you guessed it: Brooding Level Three!

Now, the problem with all this brooding is that along with it comes doubt. Specifically in this case, self-doubt. I started thinking about how my novel was never going to see the light of day, how no one was going to read it. At least right now, because, god-damn, I want to get it published! But I had a manuscript ready. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but from what I’ve seen offered from other indie writers the world is filled with self-published works that could have used the help of an editor. Why was I being so uptight? Why not just spend the next few days doing copyediting, fix those typos and put it up on leanpub and sell it as an ebook? Hell, I could have that done early in the new year!

It’s the brooding that’s held me back, kept me from going that route. It’s the brooding that keeps telling me that while I have a draft completed, I do not have a finished novel. Already I knew of a few changes that needed to happen to my manuscript before I could even think of publishing it, and in my brooding fog I was mentally making those changes (and still am). I came to realize that my problem was not how I was going to publish but what I was going to publish. You see, I don’t just want to entertain readers with my novel (though, I believe a novel should be entertaining). I want to suck them into this world I’ve created, make them experience what my characters experience, and most importantly, evoke the feelings and emotions of my thematic choices.  On top of that I want to do the characters I’ve created justice; I would be remiss if I didn’t present the Hero and his troubles, and changes that come with them properly.

With all that said, today, I’m feeling much better. When January begins so too will my second draft, and when that’s done, maybe a third draft. I’d lost sight for a moment of the pleasure of creation, blinded the promise of glory. I wouldn’t say that brooding lead me back to the lighted path, instead, I believe that brooding is my fail-safe: when I get too far ahead of myself it rears its ugly face, halting me before I run off the cliff.

Now that I’ve weathered the storm I can get back to being productive. I had a short story declined (nicely) by a publisher recently, and strangely enough, I’m actually happy about it, because now I have the opportunity to re-write it and hopefully tell a more engaging and meaningful story. Maybe, just maybe, I can turn into something good enough for Asimov’s…maybe.

Have a great day folks, and don’t run away from those darker moods; they may just get you through the day.

-Marsh

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