This will be the most personal post I’ve ever written, so if you don’t like those types of posts–skip this one. Though, I hope you’ll stick around, as it’s not too personal.
I recently posted on Facebook about being too old and tired to worry about trying to be published in the traditional sense–a publisher buying and producing my work. I decided I would just write the stories, have them edited, then publish them myself–through such places as Amazon/CreateSpace and others. I came to this decision for many reasons, but the primary reason is because I am in my 50s and have a variety of physical (and mental) ailments that make it difficult to write.
A brief, but relevant, backstory. When I was a teenager, I was badly beaten (by a bully). He broke my nose, my collar bone, my front tooth, fractured my eye socket and cut off a piece of my ear off–all of this from a chain. As a result, I’ve had to deal with certain physical problems–especially as I’ve gotten older. In conjunction with certain hereditary diseases, once I got into my mid-to-late 40s, I’ve found it more and more difficult to have a good quality of life. Were it not for my wife, my dogs, my books, and my doctor, I would have probably committed suicide.
As an avid reader, I also wanted to be a writer when I was younger. But, a lack of courage caused me to wait till I was almost 40. I spent the early 2000s trying my hand at writing. I published a handful of articles in, mostly, Monster Magazines until I had to have back surgery in 2010. The surgery helped a lot, but a few years later time and disease began to wear me down. Of course, it was during this time that I began to look into the growing world of digital books and found new opportunities. (By the way, I still buy–and collect–paperbacks. I buy both the paperback & digital editions of my favorite authors, shelving the PBs and reading the digital.)
Since about 2014, I’ve utilized this new medium and published a few things, while also seeking publication in professional magazines (even selling a few stories). But, my physical ailments continue to decline (some age-related, some not). As a result, I’ve had to reevaluate my desire to become a “traditionally” published writer.
It’s been argue that you’re never too old to be a writer, but that’s not always true when it comes to being published. Even with the necessary talent and skill, time does become a factor. Even with all the new publishing avenues, it’s seems harder to get published these days. I just don’t know how much time I have left and I have to be realistic about my ability to have a writing career.
I know I have some talent, but not enough talent. I know I have time, but probably not enough time. I even have some energy, but definitely not enough energy. And I don’t want to waste what remains of my life trying to break into the traditional world of publishing–even if I believed I had all the necessary talent, skill, and dedication to get there. I don’t want to be 60 or 70 and still be trying to find a home for my stories, especially when there a many other better writers whose work I want to see published and be able read. I am still a reader first and even though that becomes more difficult, I can still do that–and it requires less strength.
What all this had lead to is more of a desire to get my work out there–hopefully the best versions–while I still can, than seeing my books on the bookstore shelves. I know many writers who enjoy self-publishing (some who even make some money at it) and I find I enjoy it as well. Though I wish I could find more readers.
Anyway, what all this means is that–regardless of how some feel about self-publishing–I think it’s the best route for me. I’ve found like-minded and supportive people through social media, and thanks to the continued support of my wife (my Wonder Woman) I no longer feel guilty about making this choice. The stigma of being self-published, perpetrated by some, no longer means anything to me. There are quality works to be found in the self-published world (as well as pure shit), just as there are poor quality works in the traditionally published world (as well as masterpieces).
I will still seek to sell stories to paying magazines/anthologies, but I no longer have the unrealistic dream of becoming a best-selling author. But that’s okay. I can still share my imagination and creativity with others. And that’s a lot coming from a cynic like myself.