I’m an author.
But I’m also a single person who owns her home and works a demanding full-time job that has nothing to do with writing fiction.
All effort I put toward writing and the activities associated with it has to be done in my “spare” time. Those would be the hours that are not devoted to commuting to work, working the day job, house cleaning, cooking meals and eating them, exercising, paying bills and other financial activities, grocery shopping and keeping appointments of all kinds, and having to drive to those places, plus dealing with household disasters, illness and whatever else makes up a life. I haven’t mentioned socializing, because there’s precious little of that. The same goes for sleep.
A rough estimate of “spare” hours remaining after subtracting time for those aforementioned activities a little over 30 hours per week — even though I have no pets, nor a spouse, nor kids.
In the days of yore, before the internet, email and social media, I had enough time to turn out a decent-sized chapter in a weekend.
That is how I was able to write two novels.
Since I was a teenager, I’ve dreamed of being a published author. Now I am. I published a novel (Rings of Passage) in August 2013, and have another novel (Dangerous Reflections) scheduled for publication on Jan. 27, 2015.
But I can’t live on the income from writing — not by a long shot. There’s only one paycheck coming into my house that’s paying the mortgage and buying groceries, and that’s from my day job.
And I can’t sit down and write one chapter per weekend. Not anymore.
These days, I have to tend to social media by tweeting, posting, blogging, maintaining my website, soliciting for reviews, sending out emails, maintaining contact with my publicist, book designer and editor, and “engaging my public.” That’s on top of doing all the formatting of my print and ebooks, creating business cards and bookmarks, and a thousand other things that have very little to do with craft, plot or doing the research necessary to write a novel.
Of the 30 hours of “spare” time left to me, most of it ends up as electronic blood, sweat and fear burning down the information superhighway at the speed of hype, which I know will just as quickly become forgotten by the intended audience. When my next spare hour rolls around in the schedule, I’m expected to produce the next round.
Admittedly, I am not all that good at promotion. Like many authors, I’m introverted, and “selling” myself does not feel comfortable. On top of that, there is just not enough time to do it all, or do it well, no matter how hard I try.
Some nights, I fall into bed exhausted from all the trying, knowing that in six hours I have to get up and go to the job that puts bread on the table.
And yet, according to the experts out there, my books will never find an audience unless I put at least two, three or six times more effort into these promotional activities. I must build relationships with fans, make three engaging posts per day to Facebook, tweet at least six times a day hitting all time zones, build circles on Google+, and post reviews to Goodreads and Amazon of other authors’ books in the hopes that they will review mine.
So far, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what must be done, and evidently has been done by successful authors who don’t have the constraints that I do, and loads of time to offer advice.
I can’t believe I am the only author trying to climb this Mt. Everest of expectations while holding down a full-time job and maintaining a house, with a deficit of energy, time or even a rope, to pull me up the mountain.
I’m chasing my dream as best I can. I’m not whining. But I’m also not writing. I’m not enjoying that flow I was once able to achieve when I sat at the computer with a blank slate of weekend hours before me, waiting to be filled with mystery, romance and the love of what I was doing.
I wonder, will writing ever be fun again? I miss that.