Almost exactly a year ago, I self-published my first novel, The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription. It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my creative life so far. But as I got closer to putting the book out into the world, I knew there had to be a point in the process where it got easier. There had to be. At each stage before I released it - writing it, re-writing it, proofreading it, formatting it - I kept assuring myself that once the novel was published, once it was out there for people to purchase, to read, to hopefully enjoy, the hard part would be over.
Thus occurred the set-up for the punch line of that particular lesson.
A month or so after I released The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription, I was chatting online with a longtime friend of mine. She asked how sales of the novel were going (everyone, everyone, always wants to know how sales are going). I admitted that I wished they were going a little better. She typed, “Well, you’re sure to get at least 337 sales, aren’t you?” To me it was an oddly specific number; I asked how she could predict that. She typed back, “Isn’t that how many Facebook friends you have?”
And as Elaine Benes once said in Seinfeld, “And I laughed and I laughed and I laughed...”
The hard part of writing a novel - well, it’s all hard parts. But the hard part that comes with a sense of having absolutely no control is the part after you put it out there. Trying to get people to notice it, to pay attention to it, to drop “good money” on it, to read it, to recommend it to others, that has been more difficult only because I’m not the only one involved in the attempt. If writing a novel is like climbing a mountain, then self-publishing and self-promoting and self-marketing it is like reaching the top of that first mountain only to realize it’s part of an entire range of mountains, a range full of mountains that move and duck and scoff at you, mountains that ask if there’s a discount for mountains that are friends, mountains that claim they don’t read and whose eyes glaze over while they wait to tell you what they, the mountain, is up to...
...Not to mention the mountains that you create yourself. Publishing a novel has been a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t change for anything, but it’s also brought to the forefront of my mind the millions of different ways I avoid moving forward. There’s no need to get into the psychological swamp that is my self-loathing nor the psychological desert that is my motivation, but if the past year has taught me anything, it’s that I’ll seize the smallest reason I can to keep myself from pushing myself to become a better writer, a better artist.
Which brings me back to Facebook.
I enjoy Facebook. I enjoy posting things on Facebook and if I do say so myself, if you’ve wandered over to this blog to check out this essay I considered titling, “No I Am NOT Pouting!” you’ve enjoyed some of the things I’ve posted on Facebook, too. Being able to conceive of a short joke, a slight comic confection in the form of a “Facebook Playlet,” to put it out there for my friends to see and enjoy, has been gratifying. But I’m going to stop posting anything save for strictly business over there, and start putting my “pieces,” as they were, over here. Because it’s become another mountain.
Molehill? No. Facebook is a wonderful medium for connection and for expressing oneself. But for me, it’s become another lily pad in the swamp or another mirage in the desert* that keeps me from pushing myself as a writer. I find myself growing frustrated with the format before realizing it’s the format I’m given, and if it frustrates me, I need to find another one. But more importantly, leaving that work for this blog might push me towards making those pieces better, more ambitious, and more permanent as work. It might push me to create work people seek out, recommend, and not take for granted. I deserve that. Even if I don’t deserve that, I deserve to push myself to get that. Finally, I think if I’m to grow as a writer I need to start striving to gain fans, not friends. If that makes sense.
Chances are excellent you couldn’t give a shit about any of this. Fine. But it’s my blog. if you have enjoyed my “stuff” on Facebook in the past, please start checking in over here. I’m committing to making this a more professional enterprise. And if I do say so, I need to make this more professional for me most of all. So, if you’ve enjoyed my Facebook work - for as slight as it may be, I want it to be considered my work - spread the word. For Chrissakes - if you help me get more fans, I’ll be your best friend.
*Not a mixed metaphor - the metaphor was topological ecosystems overall, including mountain ranges.