Sometimes we get so buried in our worries and To Do lists and doubts of our sanity that we can’t see past the glass of white wine in our hands. No, change those pronouns.  I, my.  No use playing Wise Woman to the world.  No use not admitting that I found myself in a really deep funk for a couple of months, a period that included self-medicating to no good end, just morning headaches.
I blamed my bad outlook on the completion of a goal, the paperback publication of Graffiti Grandma, not necessarily a good thing, it turned out.  Because what was next was the ghastly marketing siege that occasionally brought on nightmares involving flaming computer keys and missing fingers and daymares of me tossing my onerous efforts into a bottomless internet abyss, hearing, “Shit. Here she comes again.”
So I explained to my friends that what I loved most was writing, not the marketing.  I didn’t really, really, care that Amazon had sold only four copies of Graffiti Grandma, probably a record of some kind. I began Edith and inched my way through a first draft.
I sold a few more copies to Rotary club members who responded in their helpful ways to my husband’s description of his clever wife’s accomplishment. I think what inspired his support was the box of books he stumbled over every time he walked into our clothes closet. The box emptied. But then Createspace, in some kind of perverted promotion, surprised me with twenty free Graffiti Grandmas. The box remains in the closet.  Rotary can only do so much good.
However, last week something kind of miraculous happened. Trolling through my emails I found one that seemed to be saying that I and Graffiti Grandma had been chosen to be spotlighted in the Kirkus Review publication. Would I be interested?  “Will it cost me money?” I asked.  I am suspicious of out-of-the-blue miracles.  “No. This is for the promotion of your book which, as you know, got a very good Kirkus review.  In fact, the reviewer will be contacting you soon.”
And he did.  And he’s writing the piece as I write this blog, my first in months.
But the miracle is what the miracle did for me. Yesterday, in a surge of self-confidence, I started a list of ways I could promote my book–locally, not to strangers in the ether:  Readings in coffee shops, discussions at book clubs, gatherings in retirement homes, classes in writing at Senior Centers.  I would approach the books stores that have Graffiti Grandma on their shelves and ask to be included on their readings schedules.  I would ask for reviews from the readers of the book who could give it at least three stars.  I would spend the money I’d save by eliminating my medicinal wine to purchase reviews from publications that charge (like Kirkus ) for the privilege of  critiquing it to thousands of people.

Well, maybe not the wine part.  The reviews cost a lot more than the wine and I do like a celebratory glass once in a while, after a busy day of checking off items on this new To Do list.


Today I finally understood that I’m a prisoner.  I’ve been kidnapped and thrown into a silent, locked room. I’m given coffee to sustain me; nondescript food is shoved at me once in a while. The most shocking thing about this incarceration is that I’m beginning to feel that isolation is normal, at times even so comfortable that I don’t spring for the door when it opens and offers freedom. The Stockholm Syndrome comes to mind. My jailors have become my friends even as they demand more and more from me, whispering, slipping notes into my computer.  Do this, finish that, stop dawdling, get a grip, write that synopsis, call that bookshop, get that press release shaped up. Now.
I am being held prisoner by countless pages of advice, warnings, and annoyingly cheerful, uplifting stories of others who have gone through this and come out successful, selling their books as fast as the POD company can put them out.  And, just as worrisome are the other reports written by soreheads kvetching about monster publishers and corrupt earning reports. Upon reading them, fright overwhelms, pinning me to my desk.
Now, in my still, coffee-scented cell, I sit at my computer, gathering whatever courage I have left, and I feel the lashes of the twenty-point marketing plan in front of me. I’ve checked off two items:  set a launch date and change my picture on the Amazon author page.  When I finish, I am encouraged. This might be doable, I think.  However, following this optimistic moment, I send out tens of requests for reviews, set dates for giving lucky persons free books, and blog my fingertips sore, making succinct and erudite remarks on other writers’ posts, hoping to make helpful contacts. And I’ve had no replies.  None.
So, why don’t I stop? Shut down Firefox. Call it a night. Retreat to the novel at the side of my bed. Because  I’ve got a bad case of S.S.  I am beyond thinking of anything else I might do or any reason to give up the dream that has enveloped my life.  Me and Patti Hearst, learning to love our captors, both doomed to rob a bank.
Well, maybe not a bank in my case, but maybe my retirement account.  It wouldn’t really be stealing, would it? Just borrowing until I make it big after hiring an expert publicist who knows what she’s doing? Perhaps then I’ll manage to recover my senses, run through that open door and head straight to Edith, my patient heroine who waits for me in the bottom drawer of my desk. 

Truth By Way of a New Yorker Cartoon

Okay, so picture this:  a mid-life, housewifely woman leans a hand against the door jamb, the other hand on her hip.  She’s looking at a man, balding, her husband, sitting at his computer, fingers perched on the keys in front of him.  He glances up at her, says, “I feel that I have at least one more unpublished novel in me.”
Damn!  Reverse the sexes, and there we are.  Even the dog curling at the feet of the writer, asleep as usual. 
I don’t really understand this need to keep on writing.
Of course, I didn’t understand my compulsive, neurotic hours of attempting to format, publish, and sell my e-books either. In the past months, I became obsessed with my search for the true path to successful marketing of books that exist only in the digital ether. That path, I began to see, led to my friends who bought my books in an effort to save my sanity.
Then, one day last week, I rose from my daily ritual of visiting blogs, writers’ sites and groups, some of which it seemed only wanted my money, Facebook, and web sites of successful authors who published the old-fashioned way, scattering writerly comments here and there, and I found that my right leg had gone dead. The dog scrambled under the bed I as dragged my body to the bathroom, other parts of me having gone dead also.
“I am not having any fun!” I yelled at my husband who came to the door of my writing space a few moments later. He knows better than to try to soothe me at such moments.
“And?” he answered, not flinching or even raising an eyebrow.
“And I quit!”
So, today I’m beginning my fifth book.  A painful, anxious-making obsession is being replaced by kinder, gentler one, I suspect, and I will continue to sit for hours at my keyboard, the dog for safety’s sake moving away from me when I finally stand up.
I have at least one more unpublished novel in me.
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