Sunday, January 10, 2016

I Got Your Expert Right Here

The experts have warned me that I'm doomed to failure.  The experts have warned me that I'll be lost among the tens of thousands of other author hopefuls all searching for the same pot of gold at the same end of the same rainbow: the best-seller list.  The experts have warned me that my books will probably gather more dust than readers.

Well, I guess I’d better heed their sage advice (after all, they are the experts!), fold up my writing tent, and take up a more realistic hobby like growing candy canes in my backyard. 

Or perhaps I’ll quote Vinnie Barbarino, TV’s eminent 1970s philosopher/Sweathog: “Up your nose with a rubber hose!”

I don’t care about the experts.  I can’t allow them to take something so precious—my dream of writing success--away from me.  Nor can I allow them to dictate to me.  Most importantly, I can't allow them to affect my writing.

My lifelong wish has been to succeed as a writer; not just a good writer; not just an average writer.  My Holy Grail is that golden circle of writing's elite, one of those iconic storytellers whose words mirror life and reflect it back to the reader--like a prism—in a kaleidoscope of varying hues and shapes.  Sometimes I worry that my mortality will catch up with me before I'm able to conceive, develop, and write down all the stories that dominate my imagination at times.  I surely hope that doesn't happen.

So many lives out there are—as Thoreau so aptly observed--being lived in silent desperation.  There are perhaps billions of people out there suffering in silence, fighting private wars against heartache, pain, disease, misfortune, cruelty, and, in some cases, themselves.  There are so many people out there for whom getting out of bed in the morning is a major accomplishment.  Rest assured, they have names, faces, and lives, and are all around us: they could be your co-worker, your best friend, your neighbor, the clerk at your local retail establishment, or the person sitting next to you in church.  They could even be a part of your own family. 

It is their stories that I want to tell as succinctly and honorably as my meager abilities will allow. 

I've always believed that life's most meaningful stories are those of oppression, of man's inhumanity to man, of fighting losing battles, and of sadness so paralyzing that dying peacefully in one’s sleep could be considered a blessing.  These are tales of inner conflict, of battle, and of fighting to the last ounce of one's strength.  As dark as that sounds, these stories can be transformed into tomes of overcoming, of victory, of finally beating down one's personal demons and living life in a productive, fulfilling, and joyous way.  I call them "people stories.And some creative force I’ll never be able to define drives me to chronicle those battles and reduce them to words that the rest of us can take into our hearts, feel, and understand.

It's my goal to write about ordinary people beating odds that would terrify Las Vegas.  Look around you.  Everybody has a story; everybody is a story.  When I write a novel, a tiny piece of my soul is lovingly tucked between those covers along with my words.  I invest thousands of hours in the subtle nuances—the implications, the innuendos, the double meanings, and the hidden messages--of a novel.  If you promise not to tell anyone, I'll let you in on a little secret: sometimes I envision myself living the lives of my characters.  Sometimes I’ll cry as I'm writing; sometimes I’ll laugh hysterically; sometimes I’ll become a shadowy character standing silently in the background.  For me, emotions are the heart, soul, and the very core of all great writing: panic, joy, anger, love, sorrow, hatred, envy, loneliness, revenge, despair, and fear all reduced to words and painted on a page like so much human graffiti.

The deepest fear of every writer lies in writing a boring book: a book that is so hamstrung and hog-tied by political correctness, empty rules, meaningless traditions, and outmoded conventions that its true voice is stifled and choked to the point of rasping silence.

I ask you, dear reader: of what possible value is a book that doesn't move you?

Every word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter of Child of Privilege—and every other novel for that matter--is there to engage you on some level.  Did reading it bring about feelings of contentment and relief?  Did you feel uneasy?  Uncomfortable?  Disturbed?  Angry?  Were there moments that made you laugh?  Cry?  Wonder?  Empathize?

EXCELLENT!  Then I've succeeded as a writer.  On the other hand, if you found my words and ideas boring, formulaic, predictable, or passive, I sincerely apologize and will try my damnedest to do better the next time around.

I keep telling myself that success’s lightning bolt could strike at any time, that I’ll someday achieve elite writer status, that my impossible dream will actually come true and my books will indeed claw their way onto the best-seller list.  That's pretty much all I have to keep me going as a writer.  That’s about all many indie authors have.  Some days, it's enough; on other days, however, it isn't, and I’m sorely tempted on those blue days to chuck it all into a closet and forget about it.

Looking back on Child of Privilege, I readily admit that it’s a violent, disturbing, and frightening story.  The feedback I’ve received—for which I am very grateful and humbled—readily reflects the book’s dark tone.

But please ask yourself this question: How violent, disturbing, and frightening is it to be pummeled at any second by somebody living in your home?  It’s a sad but horrifying fact that Domestic Violence is pervasive in our society, undelineated by income, race, culture, or class.  It causes untold misery and heartache for millions of people and destroys individuals as well as entire families.

It’s a classic people story, one I deeply felt (and still do) needed to be told.  Thus onto Amazon’s shelves came a novel about a lovable debutante serving as a human punching bag for her mentally-unbalanced and sadistic father.  While it saddens me that discomfort and revulsion will deter some folks from ever reading it, I know I left my best on those pages.  I’ll always be proud of my literary firstborn Child of Privilege.  My conscience as a writer is clear.   

The rest, dear reader, is in your hands.

Writers’ imaginations are abundant with stories both wonderful and repulsive.  There are stories about lives productive and aimless, about fortunes made and lost, about loves found and squandered, and about the day-to-day battles we all know as "survival."  We indie authors live to tell those stories, albeit through occasionally imperfect prose and sometimes poorly-constructed sentences. 

But our literary hearts are in good places.

We’re anxious to tell you about the hidden lives unfolding in the next apartment, in the house across the street, on the other side of the country, and on the other side of the world.

What does it cost you?  With a trip to your local bookstore (assuming there is one!) or a log-on to Amazon to buy a tangible copy or a download, you can purchase your key to the world of people, stories, and ideas.

A true bargain if you ask me.

Allow me to convey to you--through my words--how it feels to ... whatever.  Allow me--and other writers out there--to be your looking-glass onto this huge, crazy world and the people who inhabit it.  I volunteer to act as your conduit into the thoughts and feelings so keenly felt by the people who surround you every day.

Yes, dear reader, I still want to be a writer, an elite writer.  With Child of Privilege, I've already begun that arduous journey.  I invite you to join me in exploring those roads less traveled that silently await us just over the horizon.

There's so much I want to tell you about.  Let's explore people, places, ideas, and life itself--through the written word--together.

I’m looking forward to your company.

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