The Next gets released in 10 days!
My debut novel,The Next, gets released in 10 days. Considering it's been completed for almost a year now (at least in my noodle), this can't come soon enough. It may sell 10, it may sell 10,000, but to execute a vision is in and of itself one hell of a victory for this dreamer.
So many of us live lives of mounting un-followed-through pursuits. I feel the 9-to-5 corporate culture conditions us to 1) excuse ourselves for not making new dreams, and 2) excuse ourselves for not following through with the ones we once had. This culture has a magical built-in dream-thresher called rationalization that shreds into oblivion any pursuit not outlined by making moolah. Oprah and her minions have skipped the "having a dream" part and hopped right on over to "monetizing a dream." Why…why must what you want and making money be linked? At all? The moment someone links money to a dream is the moment someone inevitably begins to compromise what he really wants for something he sort-of-wants but may rake in more cash.
I am as much a guilty party in this submersion of the bleh-bleh's as anyone. I've got no trust fund. I live in NYC where the city, Fed, & state taxes are as high as the cost of living. Paying rent is always a struggle - and I'm not in my twenties anymore. Yet - an extraordinary convergence of circumstances jolted me from "maybe one day I'll write a book" to "must plunge now."
What did not occur to me was, "Hey, I could make a living writing!"
I don't personally know ANY writer who makes a living by writing exclusively. Even the most successful I know must supplement with some kind of alternate job on the side (whether they admit it publicly or not), or at the very least lectures, tours, teaches classes, etc. But here's the point: Being aware of this impossibility is freeing - not discouraging. The pressure to impress gets alleviated once you've accepted the reality that you will not make a living writing. You shift from "I should write this because they want me to" to "I can write whatever the heck I want to write." I don't need to compromise the vision one itty-bitty-bit because I'm not motivated by anything - anything - but the truth of the imaginary circumstances. I knew from the first moment my narrator started calling his neighbors "Schlongzilla," "Whippit on RedBull," and "Beached Whale," that I wasn't going to back down on what I needed to spit out. I knew the level of crudeness. The tone. The texture. The oddball stuff that I find exciting and rich. My screwed-up sense of irony. My sense of erotic. Because it was never about money, I could make it all about my truth. I knew if a publisher didn't appreciate it, hell, I'd self-publish. (Fortunately I found a publisher in Wilde City Press that read The Next and said "right on, kiddo," and they provided one hell of an editor who was on board with the direction I was going from the get-go. Jerry Wheeler rocks.)
When the pressure to make money hovers over an author, how does it influence his/her writing? I'd love to know authors' and readers' thoughts about this. It's a touchy subject, and I'm admittedly naive and new to the world. I'm on absolutely no higher ground whatsoever.
And yet…and yet...
Have you ever started reading a novel, and you can just feel choices made between page 1 and page 10 have already deviated from the author's true north? In your gut something says...nope, not hitting it.
Any thoughts are welcome!