Snakes Alive

The following came from a post on my Google Site’s “Schoolhouse” page:

Last year, I was discussing the business of self-publishing my work in e-book form with my youngest sister, who is probably the only person who has read everything I’ve written. She lamented the thought that I had not been published “the normal way,” not even in paper. “What do you even call yourself?” she asked. “You’re not quite even self-published in the same sense as those people with hundreds of copies of their vanity press book stowed in their garage.” I replied, “They call us ‘indie’ authors.” For my birthday, then, I got a talking card with Indiana Jones on the front and the immortal quote: “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”

It isn’t easy being an indie author. We not only don’t get much respect but we get “that look” I’ve learned to expect when I mention what I do with my spare time. It’s a “deer-in-the-headlights,” full-on panic stare somewhere between “Look at the time! I just remembered I have a pot boiling on the stove back home!” and “They’re doing great things with anti-psychotics and shock therapy these days.” (Perhaps, in keeping with the theme,”It HAD to be snakes….”) Part of the cause for that reaction is that the person who has just heard your confession is afraid you will make them read something, something long and turgid and very,very bad. I envy people like my husband, who is a photographer, who can share their hobbies very quickly. Writing is a serious commitment for an audience to digest, whereas a photograph can be scoped out and politely cooed over in under 45 seconds. I’m not saying my husband’s work is bad or that it’s worse than he thinks. It’s just that I have never seen anyone decline to ‘take a look’ and I have never seen that panicked stare come back at him in response.

After staring at me for a few moments, most people change the subject. Some, like my husband, will talk to me in the same tone one uses when their 4 year old tells them he plans to be an astronaut and a brain surgeon. I would like to point out that I have known people who do things like play in garage bands and hop into pick up basketball games. They don’t necessarily believe with any seriousness that they’ll someday be in the NBA or win a Grammy. Weekend painters I know don’t seem to be possessed of the idea that they will someday get a gig at the Louvre. I don’t imagine I’ll ever make more than enough money to buy myself the occasional treat at my hobby. I don’t think I’m any more deranged than all the other hobbyists I mentioned but then I suppose shock therapy might convince me otherwise.

I’ve learned not to mention my hobby too often, which runs a bit counter to the need to promote my books but goes a long way towards keeping me in the good graces of my comrades. I know that when I go back to work after the long weekend I will not say that I spent a happy interval completing and launching my latest book (which I did). I’ll probably just say that I helped cook the Thanksgiving dinner, watched a Muppet movie, and rested a lot. I’ve become one of those people with a secret life but not one that will generally make a superhero of me. In some eyes, I’m the guy who wears fishnet stockings and lace garters under his business suit or the lady who owns every album and magazine cover ever for her obscure favorite pop singer. There are worse things to do with my spare time. I just wonder why my cubie neighbor, who is obsessed with anything risky involving water and motors and celebrating the above with rowdy bar hopping that ends with people face down in the dust, is considered normal? For that matter, why is it normal to like watching the Kardashians and acceptable to swoon over “50 Shades of Gray?” If that’s ‘normal,’ then I’m proud to be Indie.

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3 thoughts on “Snakes Alive

  1. Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it
    was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’mthoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am ann aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any suggestions for rookie blog writers?
    I’d really appreciate it.

  2. Hi there. I keep seeing the same piece of advice for new bloggers everywhere and it’s similar to the most common writing advice I’ve ever seen (read,read,read and write,write, write). It goes: Post a lot. Some blogs for writers say you should give up blogging and just spend your time writing. I personally can’t work all the time—I need to give myself breaks so this is what i do. P.S. I have an Evernote notebook where I keeps scraps of ideas and interesting articles. This is useful because i can get to it from all my various devices and can be as brief and unpolished as I like. I’m using it now to feed this blog. Good luck.

  3. Pingback: Write in the Place Where You Live | Writers' Wroot Cellar

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