Saturday, August 13, 2016

Does failure pay the rent?

Not sure if it is the sludge of summer, the end-ish flavour of things, the Trump crap which really depresses me and even makes me anxious and depressed, or what. But I am fed up about certain things, and one of them is the Disguised Ad.

I'm seeing it all over Facebook now, maybe because it's the slow season. An author will post an article about, say, Trump's latest insane comment, and include a remark something like, "As I wrote in my fourth novel, Ten Tigers Ascending, the proletariat often blindly heed the inchoate prognostications of a demigogue to incite the fomentation of narcissistic monocracy." What he means is, "my novel says that too, only better". 

This particular novel didn't say any such gobbledygook, but this particular author MUST keep dropping in little references to his work to keep it alive in the minds of his readers. It's like product placement in the movies.  And what about "I was so deeply humbled to receive the Man Booker Award"? Humbled. I don't know about that. I would not blame the person for turning cartwheels of joy, but why not admit it?

My own novels fell flat, to say the least, and did not do well financially, though I still have no regrets in writing them. Generally speaking, they were well-reviewed. But those good and sometimes great reviews are just a pain to me now, because my novels never went anywhere. As always, the brass ring was snatched away from me just as I brushed it with the tips of my fingers.

I cannot tell you how long this has been going on.

My hope is that people will take my books out of the library and read them. I honestly don't care two figs about sales, but it would be nice if someone read them. I have no way of keeping track of this, so I have to go on faith. I am so sick of this having to hustle, to pitch, to drop in these little references so that my work will always be on my (potential, perhaps chimeric) readers' minds. 

Social media is bad, but internet culture generally is bad for making you feel BAD, badder than bad, unless you have "numbers": views, followers, hits of some kind. I never have, except for the occasional, baffling, much-read post. But most of them have only a handful of readers. Am I supposed to feel bad about that? I'm not going to stop doing it, at least not yet, because as of this writing I still feel like doing it. And that's why I continue. 

But at this point, on this day, at this moment, I feel fed-up and realize I won't ever have any appreciable level of "success" in the eyes of the world. I too have to hold up billboards for my work, but I try to keep it to this blog (with the same title as the third novel - did you notice?) and the separate Facebook page I set up for it. I've done what I wanted to and given it more than my all, and according to all those trite memes, this guarantees ultimate, shining success. Even if it doesn't, failure is just a "learning experience".

This strikes me as compassionate lying, so we/others don't feel so bad about screwing up or doing badly. Falling short. But the truth is, no matter how great the learning experience, there is no way that failure can pay the rent.