At lunch with the spouse on Friday, he lamented that instead of spending over a decade writing a grand dystopic opera, why couldn’t I have spent those years writing short stories and selling them. My response was defensive. I asked him why, after earning a degree in art, he wasn’t out there drawing comics or working in animation, making big money.
It was a mean thing to say, and it ended the conversation between us. We ate in silence and left in silence. I went back to working on the scripts I’m paid to format, and spouse went back to overseeing accounts at the infrastructure software company he’s worked for since 1995.
As I pondered how to apologize (and justified why I shouldn’t), he connected with me again and said he was sorry for what he said. I never once made the promise that my writing would support us, and it’s the same with his art. I’m a scripting hack to pay bills, he works in software to pay bills. I understand his frustration, but projecting it onto me isn’t fair.
His drawing over the years has been sporadic; but when he does produce, it’s glorious. No one sees it but us, but he’s okay with that because producing for sale requires time and a focus he lacks. My writing comics couldn’t have been easy for him, and I never dismissed his pushback regarding that career choice because it was a dead end that cost me more money than it made me. I left banking to rewrite my series, after losing five novels to hard drive failure, and I think that’s when the resentment started. We’re not as financially secure as we were (one kiddo in college this year, moving to a state with a higher standard of living) but we’re not lopsided in debt so I couldn’t appreciate where the attitude was coming from.
The more I thought about it, I realized that my decision to forgo shopping my series (and releasing it on Patreon) could be viewed as cowardly. I don’t deal well with rejection, but I also know that I pulled the trigger on this series before it was ready. No agent or publisher is taking on ‘ideas’ anymore. They want to see the work in full, before dedicating their money to it. A multi-novel female-centric sci-fi series spanning ten books? I’m good, but I’m not a deity. Agents aren’t going to tilt windmills. Many genre publishers want an author that plays the monkey dance on social media if there’s no established fanbase to guarantee a quick return on their initial investment. I don’t like rejection, and I’m certainly not going to actively seek it out.
Patreon’s not a guarantee to success, either, I’m still putting myself out there.
If I give a party and no one shows up, I will continue to party. I’ll drink all the drinks and eat all the food–the festivities won’t end because no one bothers to join me. The best I can hope for in this age of self-published glut and publishers being fiscally conservative is that someone will see my party, join me, and have good enough a time to return, with a friend.