So . . .
If I write something and post it on Pretty All True, the chances of getting those particular words published anywhere else are almost zero unless I manage to get something else published first, in which case my archives might suddenly be more marketable.
To get something else published first, I need a platform.
To build a platform, I need a growing audience of engaged blog readers.
Writing fiction on my blog does not build an audience. As proud as I am of some of the fiction I have offered, my fiction does not bring readers.
I would like to rework and submit some of my fiction for publication elsewhere, but the fact that I have offered it to a small audience on Pretty All True first means that this is almost impossible.
Writing personal non-fiction on my blog is no longer an option, because 1) I would like to use those stories as part of a larger project that I cannot get published if I have previously offered the words on my blog, and 2) I have promised to free my children from the everyday immediacy of my stories about them.
The final option — writing garbage just for the sake of putting up words and holding my place in the invisible world – is not really an option at all. I write stories. That’s what I do.
I find myself too often standing beside the river with a rock in my hand, a feeling I have shared before, but never more achingly than in a post called Ouroboros:
She stands where she has always stood, looking out across the water as it writhes its unending stygian journey along the edge of her existence. Cold greedy water churns gray and thick and muscled, pulling the river’s surface down and into itself in unrelenting voracious consumption and claiming. The river moves past her as it wrestles itself into eternal triumphant submission . . . a snake of shimmering shadowed mercury, furious metaled water.
She has spent a lifetime of days on this shore at the edge of her existence, wary of the water’s power.
She has no way to cross the river, and so it is the end of her world.
The sand below her feet is all that she has in this world.
It is her story.
She is softer than she might have hoped to be. She has lived this life of hers more vulnerable than she might have hoped to be. Life has worn her down and smoothed her edges and eroded her being, and all that once was her and is no more now lies at her feet. She is less than she once was, less than she might have been, but the sand is also hers.
She sits in this sand and runs her hands through its grit, remembering what has gone before. She gathers up a handful and lets it drift through the space before her eyes, reading in the fall the story of a moment in which she lived. A story of water and owls and secrecy and a Siamese cat and ashes too hot to touch.
She gathers up more sand and holds it tightly between her two clenched palms . . . remembers another story of ants and toads and cracked dirt and bus routes run on the hour. She shuts her eyes and tells herself the story of the shiny black abdomens of the ants as they hauled away pieces of her sandwich; of the rough warted backsides of the toads and the sudden panicked release of their scented urine in her hands; of the dry cracked earth of the path she and her siblings had worn around the yard with their bicycles; of the brother who that summer ran endless exacting bus routes on his bicycle, picking up and dropping off imaginary passengers at their assigned stops, yelling over his shoulder for everyone to “Sit down back there!”
When she opens her eyes, she finds that instead of holding sand, she is holding a rock.
Her bit of remembered past gathered together has stayed together.
Fused into something more weighty.
She works quickly to gather more handfuls of her past, to tell more of her stories, to form more rocks. She doesn’t have a plan beyond gathering and telling and making the sand of her life into something of substance, something of which she can be proud. It seems enough.
When she has a small pile of rocks on the beach beside her, it occurs to her that she may have found a way across this river.
She throws one of her rocks into the river. It splashes and sinks heavily out of sight. She throws the rest of the rocks she has made into the river, and she watches as each one disappears. She is determined; all she needs to do is pile enough rocks on which to stand and walk above the water. She will tell the stories of her life and make them serve her.
She tells story after story after story.
She throws rock after rock after rock, waiting for the moment when the rocks accumulate and break the water’s surface.
She gathers up more sand.
She tells more stories.
She throws more rocks into the water . . . pieces of her thrown away in hopes of salvation.
So many stories told; so many rocks thrown into the depths.
She stands where she has always stood, looking out across the water that borders her existence. She gathers up a handful of sand and tells a story, this time telling the story of her dreams. She stands before the cold greedy water and tells the story of her hopes.
She looks at the solid weighty rock that then rests in her hand.
She throws it into the water.
It splashes and disappears beneath the surface.
Like all the rest.
I have been submitting the book I have written to various agents, and the response thus far has been a resounding NO. To the extent I have gotten feedback, the advice does not center on the quality of my writing, but on my inability to bring a book-purchasing audience to the publishing endeavor. “Why,” I was recently asked, “Would you expect an agent to take a chance on an author who has, for the last three years, been unable to forge online success with the very sort of writing she now asks to be published?”
People speak to me of self-publishing.
Success in self-publishing requires that I do all of the things I refuse to do on behalf of this blog and then bend over to take it up the ass as well.
And so . . .
After three years of grasping at invisible straws, it is time for me to put down some roots in my real world.
We are buying a house here in Lake Oswego.
Let me tend to that.
I’m taking a break from the internet and social media – for six weeks.
For the last three years, I have been the woman at the slot-machine who is convinced that the next quarter holds magic.
Or maybe the next quarter.
Or the one after that.
I sit hunched over the machine late into the night, never winning, but growing increasingly addicted to the tinny noise of false promises and hope.
This next quarter is the million-dollar jackpot.
This next story holds magic.
This next rock forges a path to the other side.
Except no . . .
It splashes and disappears beneath the surface.
Like all the rest.
See you on March 27th.
Love to you all.