For today’s Sunday ramble, I’m going to talk about my stuff instead of worldly stuff, but I would like to remind you again that today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is a somber day for me, because as I’ve said in past posts, we’ve had more losses this year. Despite these increased losses, this is not a holiday for angry chest thumping, at least not for me. Chest thumping and speeches can come later next year, when I have something to fight for.
Today, I only mourn the loss of people who, like me, only wanted to live in peace as themselves, and discovered that someone else considered them too dangerous to let live. I pay respects to the people who put their safety on the line in pursuit of happiness and paid the ultimate sacrifice for displaying courage in the face of overwhelming animosity. This is their day, and I will honor and respect our fallen, as I hope others outside our community will for just a few minutes. If you spare just a minute to think on this today, I thank you.
So, moving along, if you’ve been following along with all my posts, you’ve seen the words weather shifts in many recent posts. So it should not be surprising that yesterday I hit one of those existential crisis moments again. This time, the nagging voice’s rant comes down to this: even if I complete every series and can eventually boast an Atwood-like score of 80 published titles, do the numbers mean anything if people are afraid to read or talk about my books? Do higher numbers of works mean really anything if the works are never read?
I’m afraid I didn’t come up with any meaningful answers, but I chose to engage in some vapid venting by going downtown for holiday shopping. After many unsuccessful music hunts these last few months, I finally located a copy of the new Staind album, and I found out that Your Shape: Fitness Evolved will not get a discount because they’ve upgraded it to a 2012 version. So I plunked down the full price for the new version, and if I can hack it, I’m going to try a beginner’s routine this afternoon. I haven’t been able to exercise in two weeks, so I suspect this may also be one of the reasons for my melancholy. Oh, and I got a nice Christmas-spiced black tea from a specialty market. It’s exquisite, and very nice for this coldish time of the year.
Anywho, riding back home, I thought again about the problems I’m having. The obvious answer is still “look for more readers to market to,” but the follow-up question of where has never been met with a viable location, virtual or otherwise. And no, shotgun blasts are not working.
A lot of people are telling me to just keep going writing what I want and ignore my consistently poor performance history with readers. That sounds like good advice, but I just lost a lot of social contacts over one of my books, and I know there’s two other stories in the queue that are actually more offensive by having worse main characters with even less redeeming qualities than Peter. The muse has got plans to do at least two more pedophile characters in the next year, and I’m worried about their reputations drowning out the voices of all my other characters. It doesn’t matter that these would be four or five unsavory and unlikable characters out of 36 books, those are probably more than enough to poison the rest of my work. It is enough to earn comments like, “Zoe’s writing promotes deviant sexual values.”
So as we got home, I commented to hubby that lots of people were trying to be the next King, but nobody wants to be the next Nabakov. It’s a lofty goal, and something I could feel respect in achieving, even if it meant no one publicly discussed my books. It isn’t that I don’t want more for myself, but I’m kinda stuck in this rut in life. Writing is the only thing I want to do. I’ve tried giving up writing to go back to gaming as my central hobby, but for as visually gorgeous and fun as the games are, they can’t hold my attention the way my muse can when she’s got her groove on. Yes, 32 million color palettes are amazing, but I still love working in a more limited range of 26 letters.
But where my muse’s groove has been heading is farther and farther away from readers, and deeper and deeper into places of my past that make me squirm. I can still get other stuff out of her, but it’s becoming a trade negotiation with every story. I have to do one of her “real” stories before she’ll go back to writing in the various series that I’m enjoying. And if I balk at too many titles in a row, the bitch WILL walk and leave me hanging. Sometimes she leaves for months, but at her upper limit, she walked out for two years from 2004-2006. Why? Because I refused to write one more chapter of her crap until she came up with something commercially viable.
These days when I ask for this, she just laughs. And I think she does because she knows she’s the one with all the power in this crazy mental relationship. When she walks and I try to write without her, I write shit. Not fixable shit either. Awful, dreadful shit that should never see the light of day. Unredeemable shit.
So yeah, I’m feeling all lost because my muse wants to write about people who readers clearly hate because “no one else is even trying this path anymore!” And it’s true. There aren’t any writers out there talking up rebooting Lolita as a modern tale that revisions Humbert as an R and B singer moving in on a young fan. Cause you know, there’s certainly no modern real life story to draw inspiration from, right?
I want to write about something that people want to read. Really. Some days, I even imagine the stuff I write might be of artistic value. On my more melancholy days, I imagine what my reviews might read like, if only real critics considered my work valid enough to pursue. Which gets really pathetic when I’m imagining a bad review AND drafting a haughty reply at the same time. That’s some crazy multi-tasking, pun intended.
I guess what I’m saying is, the current plan seems to be to stomp even farther away from paying markets. I’m not sure how I feel about this, because I really would like to have a few nest egg books in place long before hubby leaves me for good. Currently, my retirement plan after hubby is gone is “file for a pension and learn to love cat food.”
But as much as I keep pointing out our financial necessity, my muse continues to insist that money is immaterial and meaningless. Which is very Zen and also probably true. But money pays for better food than Kitty Nom Noms and crackers, and I really don’t have any other jobs I want to do besides write.
I just can’t seem to write anything that matters, is all.