Monday, March 21, 2016

The Bane of Earnestness

Earnestness and writing may appear to go together, when in fact the opposite seems to breed success. Too many writers gyrate themselves in the public social sphere and succeed at selling their work. Do reclusive introverts, the loners at home with their dogs, make best-selling writers? Only the damn good ones -- the really damn good ones who spend the end of their lives in seclusion, writing backstories for all their famous characters, while hunched over manual typewriters in wooded shacks, down the hill from the main house where the fifth spouse does laundry. Okay, maybe that's a hair exaggerated.

Not happening for most of us. It's a new age. Get your platform-on, sister. Jesus, I hate that word. Platform. It doesn't really mean anything. I wrote a damn book, and then another, and a few other things, and by God, my brain wants me to write a few more before my wrists give out. But I'm freakin' earnest. I'm probably not going to crank anything resembling a marketing machine into something viral.

Ego is a good asset to have to market a book. When you have a big one, it doesn't matter if pieces fall together or apart because the next sales trick will work, and so what if it doesn't? You're a genius, or so your ego says. It induces a bolder-is-better attitude and license to TRUMP the message. BUY MY SNAKE OIL.
Dog in Space.

I'm sitting here writing poems between novels (poems, for God sake) because they give me a sense of accomplishment. I can finish one in a day, an hour. Novels are gangly and complicated. (I'm sure a few poets would argue with me.)

Ariel Gore, an earnest writer who's earned literary success for her memoirs, says after her books reach the 100-page mark, they become harder to manage. The story can't be read in one sitting. It can't be diagnosed and fixed easily. That means more time, more thought, longer stretches between publication, unless you write full-time like mad. Unless unless unless. Ego, madness, kinda go together.

My next project? I'm thinking sci-fi. Why? Because the story can be out there. It can have space monkeys. But damn my soul, my book idea is stricken with earnestness. The protagonist is left behind on a dying planet with a dog. Hmmm, life and art track oddly close together.