Where do you go when you cross the dark forest?
Look, I know it’s no one’s fault but mine — where has the time since November 2018 gone? — but sometimes my income from indie publishing gets so low it’s not actually worth it to bother and I wonder why I do.
So, when the yard work calls, when the cats need cuddling, why would I persist?
Or in other words, why do I write?
Every good story, Terry Pratchett said, is ultimately about the death and the blood. He’s not wrong. Though it would perhaps be more accurate to say that every good story is about overcoming the death and the blood.
As Jordan Peterson says, every human life is a tragedy. No matter how successful you are, or how much you achieve, in the end you die.
And we know that. or at least those of us who are adults know that. We know that of the eternity our minds can compass, you — and I — own only a very short period of time. A window in the eternity we can think of.
Now, being a person of religious belief, I believe that I’m in fact an eternal creature. One that will go on forever, well past the span of this mortal body. But not being actually a moron, I also believe that the eternal creature is not who I am, in the sense that I’m not the two year old I was once. The person I am now, the adult I am and the preoccupations I have, are unlikely to matter very much to someone who lives forever.
So for all intents and purposes, who I am now is finite. (Arguably more finite than my life. I don’t know how I’d slice it, but I’d think 20 or 30 years are probably the extent of personality survival.)
And yet I have stories I have first imagined when I was 14, still waiting to be written.
So, yes, that’s why I write. Because I’m broken in a special way, I cope with the knowledge that I’m finite by creating people and worlds.
But it goes beyond that. See my quote of Pratchett above.
We read because we seek for meaning, for feeling, for what humans are like outside our own skull, outside our time, outside our little window on reality. We read because in stories we can play in other times, other places, in — in fact — eternity.
But am I that ah… materially unmotivated?
No. Of course I’m not. Right now, the house needs major work. And eh, I’m a creature of material needs. And I believe very strongly that one should work for one’s living, that that, by itself, gives meaning and shape to the lives we have.
Which means — as many false starts as I’ve had the last two years (and there have been reasons — that I’m starting anew.
I’m going to try to put out a book a month. And if I manage it, I’ll post how that affects the bottom line. I’ll also post any publicity efforts I find work, any pathways I discover.
Because that’s what indie is. You find a path, and you share it.
Just like novels are sharing the thoughts in the isolation behind your eyes.
That is also why I write.
In the end all the stories are about death and blood. Or life and blood. You put your life, the stuff of life, on line. You work for what you want. And you show others the path.
So, here we go. This way, please. Through the dark forest. To where that light glimmers in the distance. Sure, perhaps it is an incoming train.
Or perhaps the sun is rising.
You — and I — won’t know, until we try.