Free

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It isn’t something smart business people do often. In fact, some of us downright hate the idea. Yet, again, I find myself giving away books to people who may or may not read them. It is marketing, they say, and necessary. The people who encourage me tell me that it takes a while to build an audience.

Yes, well, I’ve been “building” one for two years, without much success. In point of fact, I’d go so far as to say I’ve failed at it. That’s not an easy admission, as short of a marriage (or two) I’ve not failed at many things in my life. I won’t call myself a failed writer, however. That would imply my work has no value or is at best, mediocre. I’ve never been accused of being mediocre and I won’t put that label on myself. In truth, if I were to add up all of the reviews of my 5 published works (only 4 of which have been reviewed) the average comes somewhere north of 4.3 out of 5. Not bad.

Still, no one’s tearing my door down to purchase my work.

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I can look at a photo, like the one above that I digitally enhanced, and easily envision an interesting world of interesting people. I can write sharp, witty dialogue. I can weave plots with twisting subplots and heartbreaking surprises. And still, at the end, it will be a party with few guests. I’m not the only one, not by a long shot. In fact, of the books published, even via traditional publishers, only 10% will cover their costs.

My latest book, Hard as Roxx, had at least half a dozen early readers. I’ve had sales and given copies away. After almost a month on sale, I’ve received 2 reviews. At least one of those two people almost certainly didn’t read the whole book before reviewing. It’s tiresome.

So, I toy with the idea of being free. I will never just give all my books away, however. I’ve been a businessman for too long to make dumb business decisions. Therefore, what I must make free is myself. I must free myself from the burden of trying to convince people to read my work. I’ve started along that path, as I’ve finished my 1st mystery, which I like more than my previous books. I’m not feeling at all compelled to seek publication, however. Likewise, I’ve begun work on a 2nd short story collection. There’s no rush to publication, since few have discovered the first collection. I am free to write. I’m free to price my work as I please. I’m free to ignore what editors, agents, publishers, or critics think of my work or themes. I’m free to cross genres, merge genres, and invent my own. I’m free to enjoy the process of writing, without worrying about the end result.

With no (writing) support system except my online friends and God, I have 1 of 2 choices. I can give up writing, or give up my faulty support system. I choose the latter. All those people who think I’m their friend, but who have made no attempt to read my work, to quote the Anita Baker song, “Just because I love you, it don’t mean I won’t disappear.” I am free now. Free to find friends who understand this is the career I care about, the work I value, the thing that expresses who I am. As an artist, if you do not care about my art, you cannot care about me. That is because, simply, you have never met me. Therefore, with much ambivalence love, I bid you all, fuck off adieu.

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My choice was hammered home by meeting someone new, a neighbor. Within minutes of finding out I was a writer, she said, “I’d like to read some of your books. I’m a reader.” Ah, so there is such a thing. I met another neighbor, who walks the 2-mile circuit around my neighborhood, reading her Kindle.  This week, I’ve been surprised by a few people who’ve told me they’ve read a few of my books.

The moral of this story is, if the people you love don’t support who you are, love the people who do.

Maybe there is still time to build an audience before I die. If not, perhaps my grandchildren will discover my books and be able to do something with them. Until then, I shall attempt to remain … free.

15 Comments

  1. cecilia says:

    Free, what a beautiful multi faceted word.. Morning Bill darling. c

  2. Hanno Phenn says:

    My Dear Friend Bill. I know i let you Down a Bit by Not Reading that fast as I uually do but as you know when you have found true love you loose the time. There is a second reason and I am very pleased about it . I m free as well and I have found saatchi online to help me to sell my art . Bill I read your work with pleasure and I will continue to read it. Not just because we are friend even on long distance. Because I love your style to write the way you build stories. Thank you for your writing .I know how hard it is to publish or sell art. Your Friend Hanno

    1. Hanno, thanks for your comment and your support. I’m glad you’ve found assistance to sell your art. Finding a market is so difficult. And I promise, you have not let me down by living your life. My issue is only with the “friends” and “family” in my life, none of whom has ever tried to read a single word I’ve written.

      We can’t expect people to make our lives a top priority. However, I can’t imagine having a close friend who wrote and didn’t at least attempt to read their stuff. After all, it’s been 4 years since I started writing fiction and 30+ since I started writing poetry.

  3. ericaatje says:

    I keep on reading your stories when I have the time. Because I am free as well to do what I want to do (sometimes 😉 ) Okay, duty calls… Have to do some shopping for dinner… 😉
    Love your stories!!!

    1. Free to shop. Hmm. Doesn’t sound free. Thanks, Erica.

      1. ericaatje says:

        Grocery shopping. Not my favourite kind of shopping. I don’t like shopping anyway… I’m not that kind of woman… 😉

        1. No, you’re the good kind. 🙂

          1. ericaatje says:

            Hahahaha, maybe I am… 😉

          2. ericaatje says:

            Hahahaha, maybe I am… 😉

  4. Bill,
    Since finding your blog, reading your posts and viewing your photographs I find much inspiration, truth and honesty. I purchased your book The Stream Discovery which I am reading and enjoying very much. I also downloaded The Juice and Other Stories from Amazon which also like very much.

    Thank you for the inspiration,

    Steve

    1. Steve, thank you so much. I promise you, your reading my books are more inspiration for me than I’ve given you. And interacting with talented photographers like you has made me love taking pictures again, which I thought was gone forever.

  5. Carissa says:

    Okay, now I feel like a total shit. I’ve read “The Juice” and have been negligent in writing a review (loved it, by the way). I will do get this done within the week (amidst work, packing and trying to work my way through the hundreds of photos I took at the air races).

    1. Carissa, thank you, but there is no reason to feel that way. I wasn’t directing this at the people I’ve met online, and certainly not those I met through my blog. Most of the few people who do support me are those I’ve met here. This was directed at my “real” friends, who will be surprised to discover I no longer feel close to them at all. Since none of my friends or family (except my mom) have ever read my blogs, I’m pretty much free to say what I feel.

      Thank you for reading “The Juice” and your kind support.

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