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Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Business, a Hobby or a Calling?

From time to time, seems wise to publicly assess where I am with all this Getting Attwood Published stuff. This musing was prompted by the remark of a good and long-time friend and fellow author:

"I can tell you what is wrong with your book. It is too truthful. People want fantasy disguised as reality."

Early on, someone would point to a nearby writer who was successful writing romance novels and suggest anyone could do that, so why didn't I? I used to turn my nose up at such suggestions. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that it was wrong for me to deprecate such work. You have to create characters. You have to move them from point A to point B. Something has to happen to them. The reader must be engaged. None of this is easy.

But it can fall into a formula and I just could never do that style of writing.

My writing projects had to fully engage me. When I was working as a journalist, writing a news story was as easy as sitting in a chair. It didn't really engage me. You got the facts assembled, found a good first sentence. Maybe gave it little, cute tweak here or there; and it was done -- published and forgotten.

Not so when I wrote fiction. I had many sides of myself I showed to my family, my friends, my work colleagues, my bar acquaintances. I felt only truly integrated when I was working on a piece of fiction.

There is a metaphysical aspect to much of my fiction. And there is realism. I used to be offended when a reader would ask how much of a story was real. Then I came to realize it was the highest sort of praise: the words I had written had created a reality for that person.

And now, after publishing through ebooks (slowly turning them into paperbacks), I'm getting the following truly gratifying type of comment. It's in reference to the paperback version of One More Victim, which also contains the novella The Saltness of Time and three short stories:

"One More Victim" is an amazing, heartbreaking, beautiful story (says so right on the cover) - but then, those are my words, the words I said right after I finished editing it - I cried while I was editing it, and I'm not the sort to easily become overly sentimental about a story. It is a coming-of-age story, a story of realizations, a story about beginnings and endings - it is a story I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a well-spun tale.

This whole venture with epublishing has not made me much money. I think I'm just about even. But it's not a business for me and it's not a hobby. It's more like a calling. And the rewards for a calling aren't measured in dollars, but in knowing you've communicated deeply with another human being.

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