Confessions of a Failed Writer

(You might have read this already. I am a failed blog poster)

I am a failure as a writer.

The first person I met at college had self-published her novel and it was a success. People bought it, read it, and liked it. She made enough money to pay for college and probably a bunch of other stuff. She now has a sequel, an audio book, and a movie deal.

She is a success.

I was tainted. I thought all I had to do was write a good book and it would sell and I could be an author with a car that doesn’t always have that low-tire pressure light on, and I would own a house, and people would want me to sign stuff that I wrote.

I graduated college with a writing degree. I wrote a book. A few friends and family read it. I wrote another book. A few friends and family read it. I wrote two more books. No one read it. 

Well, that’s it. I’m a terrible writer, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. 

In between publications, I joined a Facebook group recommended to me by another successful writer friend. They are a great help with information regarding self-publishing specifically on Amazon. But there is a lot of info and there is a lot of different advice.

First, you need a mailing list. “I wish I had built a mailing list before publishing all these books,” someone wrote.

First, you need to write to market. “If you want to make money, write what people want to read now! Read the top ten in the genre/keywords and copy the recipe. Billionaire Romance is hot now! Write that. Everyone is reading Clean Vampire Billionaire Harem Romance now. Write that and you’ll be rich.

First, you need to write twenty books and then you’ll make fifty grand.

Stop.

I don’t want to write that stuff. “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Isn’t that what people say? You’ve heard the punchline. “…because they’re not hiring.”

What is success?

In America, money equals success. Successful people have money. Right? My friends and family would say I am successful because I graduated college and wrote five books. True. I successfully did those things. Am I a success?

I don’t feel like one. I wrote a trilogy of books in the Superhero Science-Fiction/Fantasy category. They have cool covers illustrated by a working comic-book illustrator. They are well plotted with lots of twists and turns. I did the work. I advertised in the right places, but no one’s reading my books.

Why not? If people were reading and saying stuff like, “This books sucks!” then I’d know I wrote a turd. I look at the most popular books in my genre and…damn it, they’re a lot of shirtless, six-pack dudes and no capes! They’re placed in the superhero category, but as far as I can tell there are no characters who can bend steel or fly. I feel cheated.

So, I started writing a sequel. Wow. That’s stupid, right? You might say, “Cut your losses!” I feel like I failed, but I enjoy the story I’m telling. I’m also working on a sequel to another non-superhero book I wrote and I’m also writing an erotic vampire novel. Because why not? I’m having fun going broke.

In this space I’m going to talk about writing. Not really about the craft or even the business aspect, but the decision to wake up every day and write. I want to tell you about my struggle. I’d like to hear about your struggle. I’ll talk about aches and pains and paying the bills and taking care of my pets and maintaining a relationship with a non-writer. All the dirty, ugly, non-sexy parts of what it takes to try to be a success.

What is success to you?

Time Travel is 2020

 

Part One

“ABC news is predicting, with 38% of the polls reporting, that Ronald D. Crampton of the Control Alt Delete party is the winner of the 2020 election.”

That was the last thing that Jim remembered. He had been in a coma since that fateful evening. He didn’t remember drinking all night in the campus’s media room with a hundred other Boonie supporters, hoping against hope that, like the 2000 elections, the news had called the results too early.

Stan Boonie was as close as a messiah to him and the majority of students attending the Vermont liberal arts college—emphasis on the liberal—that Stan Boonie had attended. He had promised to tax the rich, make healthcare and college education free for everyone who made less than six figures. He even promised to refund money previously spent on healthcare and college. Companies would have to provide six weeks paid vacation for starting employees, a twenty-five-hour work week, thirty paid sick days, and six months paid maternity and paternity, and grand paternity leave. The man was scandal free: he had been married to his wife for sixty-two years and he no longer had sex with his own wife, let alone anyone else’s. Creating a democratic-socialist utopia was the eighty-year-old career politician’s only desire.

Jim wouldn’t remember drunkenly staggering back to his dorm, climbing to the roof and jumping four stories to the paved part of the quad below. Sixteen other Boonieites would also commit suicide that night rather than live in a Crampton-led nation.

Jim was the only one who survived.

Years later, he stirred in his hospital bed, letting out a little moan. The nurse at the foot of his bed, checking off items on her clipboard did not look up. She was accustomed to his little mewlings and movements.

“What year is it?”

The nurse dropped the clipboard. Jim was sitting up in his bed, monitors and food intake tubes attached to his arm and stomach respectively. She struggled with the desire to shout for a doctor or to run from the room to summon an expert, but there she stood. He repeated the question.

She said, “It is November 7, 2036.” He fell back on the bed. The nurse looked to the door but made no movement for fear of breaking the moment like a soap bubble. “Who is President?” he asked staring at the ceiling.

She swallowed hard. She rubbed her itchy eye and took a deep breath.

“Who is the President?”

She exhaled. “President Crampton.” She watched his pale face turn whiter. “He is about to be elected for his sixth consecutive term. Pollsters expect he will be re-elected with 99% of the vote.”