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.