I haven't blogged in awhile, and I'll come right out and explain why: I have been through a bit of an identity crisis, asking myself why on earth I'm attempting to be a novelist at a time when the supply of novels vastly outweighs their collective demand.
My husband confided in me that he'd seen a statistic that 400,000 people write a novel in November each year for NaNoWriMo, asking me, "What is your real goal? If it's to write a breakout bestseller, I think you should stop writing today. Because it just seems unrealistic. Writing novels is too hard."
And really, truly, he is right. If my goal in attempting to become a novelist (or continuing to be a novelist, if my two self-published works count) is to hit a bestseller list or to "do this for a living," then I'm barking up the wrong tree.
In truth, I don't know the answer to his question. Up till now I've worked hard at my novels under the assumption that there was a glimmer of hope I was creating a new career for myself. After living and breathing the phenomena of self-publishing for two years, I have to say, it's not fun, it can be soul destroying, the reading market is tiny, marketing a product for which there is literally no demand is freaking hard, and my old job was easier*. And way better paid.
*I'm not talking about the writing part... I'm talking about all the crap that comes along with selling your books.
Did I have more talent for my old job (tech PR)? Or is it just easier because it's not a dream chaser? It's not a job that a five-year-old lists as his/her life ambition. Because it's not creative?
This is the crisis, if you want to call it such, that I'm working through. I have a third novel in the works, but there is a major issue with the story -- I simply cannot work out what the ending should be, not after months and months of thinking about it -- and I cannot continue to write it from the place I'm at now until I figure that out.
In looking at this problem, I think the real problem is, I've been trying to make my plot overly sensationalized. I was trying to write a bestseller, rather than just write a meaningful work.
Now that my husband has been frank with me about his thoughts on the impossibility of the publishing industry, I have a fresh pair of eyes with which to review my story, making two pivotal changes; (A) I plan to make it however long it needs to be, novella, short novel, novel, whatever it takes -- I'm currently thinking novella, for which there is probably an even tinier market than novels -- and, (B) Even if nothing happens in the story except the resolution of inner conflict, I'm still going to stick to my story. For the love of my character, if nothing else.
In other words, I guess I've given up hope that I'll become a novelist for a living. But you know what? Maybe that gives me greater freedom to produce better work. Maybe if I finally give up my dream of "making it" in publishing I will shed the conventions, rules and formulas for the betterment of my art.
I hope to keep blogging despite a shift in my thinking. I always aspire to be an inspiration to those who are starting out in writing/publishing. But the truth is, I just don't know where publishing, and the market for books is headed, and that uncertainty colors every move I make.