The classic comedy show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, premiered on this day–in 1969. And we’ve laughed since then.
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.
3 of my favorites were born today:
Harlan Ellison (1934)
Christopher Lee (1922)
Vincent Price (1911)
On April 13, 1844, New York’s The Sun added an extra page to their paper. The page claimed that a popular balloonist, named Monck Mason, had flown across the Atlantic Ocean in just 74 hours–a historical first.
Named Victoria, the balloon had departed from England and was headed for Paris, when one of the propellers malfunctioned. The balloon drifted off course–and ended up in South Carolina. Word quickly spread and readers were excited to get a copy of the paper for themselves. They even showed up to the newspaper’s office to get copies.
But, unknown to the enthusiastic crowd, the story was actually a hoax–perpetrated by Edgar Allan Poe. The hoax was revealed two days later but, by then, The Sun had already made quite a bit of money.
Poe later wrote that, “I never witnessed more intense excitement to get possession of a newspaper.” He seemed surprised that people were so easily manipulated by false news. He even stood on The Sun’s steps to inform the crowd that the story was a hoax. But, most of the readers ignored him while they were snatching up copies of the paper.