freedom

When I was 17 I had never actually spent a night outside my parent’s house, except for a summer camp when I was 14, from which I begged my parents to come and rescue me midway through.

Now, you might understand my parents were highly worried when I — secretly (I was a weird kid for Portugal and very weird for a girl) — applied for an exchange student program and placed in Ohio, where — ah, do you think it was an accident? — my wide-spread family hadn’t even any remote family or friends who could check on me.

It would take knowing me better than I think my parents do, even now, to understand the two were perfectly consistent.

You see, when I was in that camp at 14, I found out it was kind of like being in basic, but without the perk of getting a nifty set of muscles and an army career.

It was petty “do this” and “don’t do that” all day long and twice on Sunday. Kind of like a nunnery without religion. Get up at same time, you have 2 minutes to shower. Here is breakfast, eat all of it we don’t care if you like it. We’re hiking to x place, and we don’t care if you don’t want to go. No choices, not even a binary one. And no time alone, to be in the secret of your own head and think.

Now, if I’d known I was an introvert (No, I didn’t. I don’t think the culture had a concept of introvert, or at least I personally didn’t. There was quiet and not quiet, which might be viewed the same way, except I’m the kind of introvert who puts out a cloud of words as squid ink. By preference, though, I would find things like washing dishes during my parents’ vast parties: didn’t have to be around people (no one really wants to clean the kitchen) and didn’t get me yelled at for hiding, as my room would do. Washing a few hundred dishes was an easy price to pay for solitude.) I’d have known this would be a disaster, because it was enforced togetherness ALL THE TIME. And regimented living with no other options.

Now, from their point of view, it made perfect sense, and I can see it made the camp (which was paid for by charity) much easier to run. But there were arbitrary rules that made no sense. Like oh, no news. I could see no television, true. BUT “no news including radio news?” in a time of high instability? Uh. no.

Later on, btw, at 19, I went to a religious mountain retreat, and did fine, despite the enforced togetherness and regimentation, because when I went on “contemplative walks” they left me alone. And I did that 3 to 4 hours a day. Also, going to your room, closing your eyes and praying was always acceptable. So that was fine. And no news in that case made sense, as you were trying to abscond from the world.

Anyway, becoming an exchange student wasn’t the equivalent of going to the camp. It was the equivalent of leaving the camp halfway through.

Mostly because I’d grown to think that the culture as a whole was nuts and we were being massively lied to. (This didn’t happen in a vacuum. I read foreign papers, listened to foreign news, and had been to a couple of significant events that got bizarrely mis-reported.)

So I wanted to go see. And I did fine. I realized eventually that in the US I could get better or at least more varied information. Which kind of comes back to no, I didn’t marry so I could come here, but if I hadn’t married I had a job offer. (Sort of job. Assistant professor. Anyway.)

Anyway, this comes to mind when I think of traditional publishing vs. indie.

Sure, traditional publishing gave me more money up front and (for now) wider distribution. This might change, as I get things going after move (right now I feel like I have three heads and two of them are arguing for time at any given moment.)

But… Other Rhodes did slightly better at launch than the others, and if I continue the series, it will grow.

And there are more people making a living from it than from Traditional.

Sure. The top performers are still rare. But there are more people in the 20k to 50k bracket than at any time in the history of publishing.

More importantly, though, is the fact that you can control your career. By this I don’t mean “no one will touch my words.” I’m not stupid, and I’m actually pretty laid back about editing. My words NEED touching, as those who read my raw unedited posts know.

But, going over previously edited books doesn’t fill me with confidence in Trad Pub’s ability to do that. Now, you’re going to find typos and the occasional glopped sentence in any book, including those that have gone through two or three editors in a row, but you know, considering they kept 90% of proceeds, what exactly was I buying.

What I mean by controlling your career, is that you know (well, to an extent. Amazon is somewhat opaque) what is selling and why and what you did to bring it about.

Accounting by trad pub is some of the greatest fiction they publish. And no one who has been trained in finance can look at the reports without going “It’s a scam.”

But they used to be the only game in town, so you had to do it. Including turning series on and off at their say-so.

Well, now it’s not so. Now you’re free to fail or succeed on your own.

Now, maybe you’ll fail. It was always possible that the seventeen year old girl boarding that ridiculously out of date plain with her tiny suitcase would just not adapt and call for a pick up/return ticket. Or do something so absolutely stupid she ended up dead, which is possible in cross cultural stuff.

BUT–

But you’ll have more information. And fail or succeed on your own.

Which is worth it, by itself.

Or at least it’s worth it to me.

And now pardon me, I’m going to engage in “spiritual retreat” with some grout. This too shall pass and there will be more writing soon.

7 comments

  1. Literally as I opened the link here, Fulton Sheen was intoning on my local Catholic radio: “The freedom to love is the freedom to hate.” Followed by many other examples of where, to do ANYTHING, you had to risk the opposite.

    So, very in keeping– in order to be free to succeed, you must be free to fail.

  2. “I launched a book into the air/ And if it’s read, I know not where.” OK, now with payment-by-country on the ‘Zon, you can get a rough idea, but not always. Some books are duds, or sit for a long time before they are discovered and start to sell. Some books do pretty well. Some books are killed by their author’s behavior (yes, that one, among a few others). And one might be the Golden Book [h/t John C. Wright] that keeps someone going to fight another day, or inspires a kid to dare and do. And some books quietly attract enough readers that the author can eat out once a month, or catch up on bills and a car payment.

  3. Interesting in that I too am an introvert (can be alone in a room full of people) but since I was already here in the U.S., and was well aware of needing some structure in life, enlisted in Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus for a term (that turned into a career)…But yes there were many days I was on my own and loved it. Got on the bicycle and went anywhere…only returning home because I didn’t know how to beg for food and a bed somewhere else….

  4. I also remember being one of those introverts who hated summer camp. Religious ones in my case, but no one was allowed to go take long walks or spend time in prayer. The other kids would have beaten you for the latter and since we had girls there, the former were forbidden. I also loathed it for the sadistic creeps who seemed to swarm through them, abusing the other children and small animals indiscriminately.

    So every time I asked my mother to not send to another of those camps, guess what. I loved her but she seemed convinced that if I disliked something that meant it was good for me and I had to be forced to go through with it.

  5. I’ve gained new insights into why I hated Girls Camp when I was younger from this post. Some extroverts are okay but some people think that anyone who wants to be alone wants to be alone for sinister purposes.

    1. “some people think that anyone who wants to be alone wants to be alone for sinister purposes.”

      This reminds me of something I saw online years ago. It was about some people in, I think Britain moving to have security cameras put in every private home in England ‘to fight crime’. Most of the people I knew thankfully pointed out what kind of a horrendous invasion of privacy it was. All save one yutz who argued that no one had a ‘right’ to privacy “and the only people who want it have something to hide.”

Comments are closed.