It’s All About Me and Clare, God Damn It!!!!!!

memyselfi

There are now eight parts to the Clare stories and, after completing extensive rewrites, I’m feeling pretty good about them. The logical next step is to begin pushing them out into the world.

There’s two ways of doing this:

  1. Send them to my wonderful agent who hopefully will fall in love with Clare
  2. Get them noticed first through some form of publishing

I started by mentioning them to my agent who says she’ll be delighted to read them when I’m ready to send them along to her. But I think the best thing to do for her would be to complete the series and I’m at least seven stories away from the ending–say six more months if I’m lucky that the world and life stands still.

That leaves #2, so I started with the folks at Wattpad.com, asking them to highlight Clare on their homepage. They enthusiastically replied that they would absolutely consider it, but I should hold tight because it may take six weeks for them to decide.

Exactly six weeks later they got back to me and this is what they said:

We enjoyed your collection of stories, but we feel that it’s a little early to add you to the Featured List as you’ve yet to really engage with the Community.

Additionally, your collection is marked mature and I’m afraid we’re not adding mature content to the List at present.

Well, there you have it, God’s honest truth about how I’m failing Clare: I don’t engage with a Community and the stories’ ratings are a little too, well, risque for the more acceptable rating of “All Audiences (13 +)”.

This signals trouble.

Community–whether upper or lower case–is a word that gets thrown around a lot in publishing these days. My agent has explained it to me several times. Simply put, community means the writer brings along a whole posse of readers with her even before she gets to the starting line because publishers and editors no longer have the luxury of supporting writers until they grow an audience. Thus the requirement that a writer possess not only talent but warm, paying, bodies.

Getting bodies means I can’t just put Clare up on Wattpad. I have to employ every social media option out there, starting with the 35 million or so other writers on Wattpad who I should make nice to by following, commenting and liking. I’ve tried but Clare zaps any energy I have to follow, comment, or like anyone else. Can’t I just say I’m following people? Can’t I simply create a pool of general comments and then cut and paste them to a random, very unselect, population among the 35 million writers on Wattpad (and seriously? 35 million? Think about this for a minute. It’s like all of Idaho are suddenly writing fantasy/horror/dystopia/chick lit! Isn’t that a horror in and of itself?)? Other than that–and yes, I know this would be unethical–I simply can’t imagine I have enough time left on earth to build a community on Wattpad.

What I have been ethical and earnest about is this blog and a website to try to accumulate readers (and thank you to those who have gone on to read Clare). I’m technically on Facebook and LinkedIn, though I rarely post or ask to be connected. My agent strongly suggested I get a Twitter and Tumblr account, which I did, but you won’t find me on them because I’m simply not witty, interesting, smart or clever enough on the fly. Pinterest and Instagram are non-starters, not that I don’t look at them when family and friends ask me to but I can’t imagine why I would use them. Seriously, I can’t imagine.

As for the other reason why Wattpad is not featuring Clare–I don’t know what to say. According to them Clare’s content ‘is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. Stories labeled with ‘Mature Content’ may contain frequent use of strong language and graphic depictions of violence, sexuality, and drug use. Stories where explicit sexual activity is the sole premise of the story are not permitted on Wattpad.’

Clare is sexual, profane, often druggie and, in an understated way, violent, so what can I say–that’s life for the two young women I’m writing about.

So here’s my options:

  • Suck it up and work my butt off to build this community thing;
  • Not look to Wattpad to do much promoting but continue to use it as a workshop platform until the story is complete;
  • Start pushing the work out the old-fashion way, i.e. small literary publications/websites, etc;
  • Just love the hard work of creating Clare.

So here’s my options:
∙ Suck it up and work my butt off to build this community thing;
∙ Not look to Wattpad to do much promoting of Clare but continue to use it as a workshop platform until Clare is complete;
∙ Start pushing Clare out the old-fashion way, i.e. small literary publications/websites, etc;
∙ Just love the hard work of creating it.

Getting It Together

tatoo girl

This is the cover of the Clare and I collection on wattpad.com.

Publishing the book on-line has been a pain in the neck. I love the opportunity and the possibilities digital printing offers but, for each site I’m on, there’s a whole new layer of technical capabilities/directions/rules/kinks.  There’s probably very easy ways to do the things I want to do in these stories (see post below where I bitch about it).  I’m just not finding things as intuitive as I personally, in my very stubborn idiotic way, think they should.

All of which is to say–publishing is never easy.

I read an obit recently of a mystery writer who for most of his life had incredible success–big publishers, huge following, awards, etc. Fifteen years ago, he started to branch out, wrote scripts for his books, thinking they’d be a breeze to sell to some movie producer: didn’t happen. Meanwhile, he decided he was going to write something other than  mystery novels–no one bought them.  He never published again.  He shot himself.

There’s a lesson here to remember. I suspect I may never be commercially published again. I’ll never make my long-suffering agent ecstatic, never get a contract, another advance, an editor who loves me, a galley to proof,  the weight of a physical book in my hands, the readings and fan letters. For a length of time, these things were the measure of my worth and then, like any other job, something happened. Things changed. Passed me by.  I wasn’t able to figure out what was wrong.  Maybe it couldn’t be figured out. It just was, and everything I did before appeared to be a mirage, at best a fluke.

I know what that guy was going through.

There were at least two times when I either symbolically (i.e. threw/burned manuscripts) or in reality (drinking; a lot of pills; walking into the ocean off Brighton Beach)  was going the way the mystery writer went.  The first time was after eleven long years where I couldn’t for the life of me get published–rejection letters; phone slamming down; editorial laughter abound concerning nearly everything I sent out into the world.  The second was a year after finishing up my last book, with three well received books before it.

Since then I’ve sent handfuls of proposals to my agent and talked up a lot of ideas with friends. Nothing panned out and another darkness was always hovering two inches away.  There was nothing artistically romantic about all this. My writing was pretty much all I hung my hat on. Family, friends, all of the rest of life didn’t matter at all–useless to them, useless in the world, a walking illustration of a foolish dud. I was coming up against what we all come up against–the limits of our youthful beliefs and the discovery of what we will, or will not, endure.  Eventually the good husband kicked me  to someone who knew what to do, who gave me the drugs I faithfully take every morning. It took six wobbly months for my head to clear and begin to find a worth beyond a book with my name on it.

All of which leads to Clare and her friend. The stories are coming at a pace of once a month, including obsessive polishing, although my husband says they need more proof reading, too. There’s no vanity in putting them out.  For all the hard work I’m putting into them, they could all suck, but perhaps they don’t,  even though the average number of readers hangs around 20.  About That Night, though,  got up to 35–but there’s graphic sex and a suggestion of incest in that one, which always helps. I think maybe my sister may briefly check in but I’m pretty sure my agent or any editors haven’t.

What the hell, though.   The girls are out there.  Last week, I even decided I’m going to start sending them out to magazines of all kinds. I haven’t received rejection letters in a while so this should be fun. The difference is, they won’t matter.

And you never know.  It’s better than the alternative silence.

Just for fun, here are the stories.

The Fashion Of the Day

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Swans

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Parallel Dilemmas: The Things We Have to Do to Get Out of Here

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About That Night

alone girl

Moms At Rest

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