Growing Up Indie, Part V: Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

“I’m looking forward to the next installment!”  What greater compliment can a reviewer pay an author?  I mean, I ask you!  Feedback like that makes me want to chain myself to the keyboard and pound out the next novel in a week.  (Okay, maybe two weeks, on account of I have that pesky day job.)  And why not?  The next installment is a already full-blown tale in my head, just begging to be told.  And, brother, it’s a corker!

So I sit down, rub my hands together like Van Cliburn warming up for “Moonlight Sonata,” lay my fingers on the home row, and … nothing happens.  Not.  One.  Damn.  Thing.  For months.

Writer’s block, you say?  Nah.  Writer’s block would be a step up.

I’ve tried all the usual remedies—leisurely walks with my dog, Molly; ice cream; red wine; ice cream; free writing; ice cream; wearing my jersey inside out.  Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, and, oh yeah, I don’t have a jersey.  Meanwhile, the “agent” perched on my shoulder harps on the dire consequences of “failure to publish in a consistent, timely manner” and points to fellow authors on Facebook—Ten thousand words today!—sneering, “Why can’t you be like her?”

Have I been tense and unhappy?  Do I feel pressured bordering on desperate?  You could say that.  You could also call Katrina a stiff breeze.

Now, as we all know, there are no atheists in foxholes.  That being the case, I decided to discuss my verbal constipation with the Man Upstairs.  And we were chatting, by which I mean I was whining about how I would probably never be able to write again, and how that would just about kill me, and oh, by the way, what am I supposed to do with these two (no, make that three) books in my head?

And I said, with great consternation, “How come writing was more fun before I self-published?”

And He said, “Bingo!”

And I said, “Huh?”

But, you know, I finally got it—well, maybe—one of the biggest dangers of self-publishing, at least for me:  Writing starts to become business and stops being fun.  I lose the sheer delight of my art, the joy of painting with words, as in ….

The tseet-tseet of the blood-red cardinal in my back yard.  Molly’s liquid-brown eyes.  The hollow ache of loss, rain drumming on a tin roof, the way the air tastes in that blue hour before dawn.

Know what’s really funny?  I’ll probably never use those phrases in a novel.  Can’t say for sure, of course, but chances are.  Still ….

I do love to paint.  Love, as Michener said, “the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotion.”

So I’m putting the novel on the shelf for a while … maybe a long while.  Gonna taste some words, paint small, and rediscover the joy.

I’m gonna dance like nobody’s watching.

Then, we’ll see.

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