As I start a new novel, I look back at what I've done this year and cringe at what I haven't done.
I finished writing the surreal science fiction fantasy novel, "Dark Red", in Feb of this year, 200,000 words. Next, on a whim to see if I could, I wrote the cozy, "Life Lessons with Savanna", finishing in April and then completed a science fiction (with satirical overtones) novel, "Returnee", in October.
The three novels have a few things in common. One, I wrote them. Two, they haven't been published. I didn't try hard publishing any of them. They reside on my computer along another science fiction novel, "Spider City" (which is actually a trilogy), and a science fiction tome titled "White Parasam" and an earlier novella,"Peerless", and a couple others. None published. None really attempted to be published. I set my sights on writing novels and I've done that but never really established a goal of publishing them.
I've talked about it and thought about it. Those that read my posts on the late, wonderful Red Room site know that it's a recurring issue for me to get my butt in gear and get published. I thought once it was because I'm fearful of criticism of the novels. I think that contributes but I'm also lazy. I'm familiar with novel writing now. It's easy. That publishing business, well, that's something new and different. That's work.
But, some will ask, why are you writing if you're not trying to publish? Don't you want to be publish?
Yes, I want the victory without the hard work and effort. See, lazy. I still write because I thoroughly enjoy it, and enjoy the results, the novels I finish. That work, progress and result immediately reward and validate me, safely, without others to mar my self-image. Easier to stay unpublished and believe myself talented than to publish and prove otherwise. Except I know that's not true. I wrote and published short stories and received fan mail. So there is some sort of talent there. Novels, of course, are more ambitious, with greater associated risks. I go back and read them and enjoy them, often surprised by how well they're written, but that's me. I'm not impartial.
Besides, I'm intelligent enough to understand not everyone likes the same things. I thoroughly enjoy George R.R Martin's series, A Song of Fire and Ice, but others think those novels too big, too gory, or too unwieldy. Love Louise Erdrich and think her a beautiful writer that tells deep stories and yet others shy away because it's not what they want to read because they're too dark. I enjoy Cormac McCarthy, Harlan Ellison and Michael Chabon, Scalzi along with Asimov, and Octavia Butler, Phillip Pullman and Nancy Farmer, Kate Atkinson and Ian McEwan, Lee Child, Jonathan Franzen and Jonathan Safron Foer, Sue Monk Kidd and Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem and Jo Nesbo, Stieg Larsson and David Guterson, David Balducci and Neal Stephenson, along with Stephen Baxter, Larry McMurtry, Sarah Vowell, Khalid Hosseini, Bernard Cornwell, Neil Gaimen, Donna Leon, Patrick Ruthfuss, Louise Penney, PD James, et cetera. These are among the writers I've read this last year. Some of those books were books I read before or books of theirs published long ago that I overlooked. I just like a novel that draws me in to think or lets me live on another world or experience life through another one's skin, and admire the writers that make it happen. But I have friends and relatives who judge novels and writers more cruelly and will take issue with a number of those listed, and their works, leaving me to wonder if perhaps I'm not critical enough...or are they too critical? Whichever, it comes down, in my mind, to different preferences and expectations. We look to novels for different reasons, carrying our own baggage, and walk away with different impressions of what we read.
No, thinking it all through, it goes back to being lazy. I have my routines of work, writing, reading, walking, visiting with friends and running around with my wife. I'm comfortable in those ruts, way too comfortable. I must take the decision to pursue publishing the last one done, and the rest. I must allocate the time and energy to do so. If you make it a priority, it gets done, just as I made it a priority to meditate and find balance, to get up and write every day, to write a novel, and a priority to do yard work, take care of the cats, wash the cars, socialize with friends, fix things around the house, go to work and complete my projects, now I need to take control, tell myself, "You must do this," set the time aside, establish a new routine, and do it. Publish. If not for myself, then for my wife and supporters, who have wondered just what the hell it is I write.
It's time they see the results.