From Slush to Pulp

Curiously Blue – the truth about finally getting published

Posted On 08am30UTC_f2021Thu, 08 Apr 2021 09:04:33 +000004am30_bThursday20219 By Paula Richey
“It must be exciting to have a book published!”

Well, I guess it is. If it’s exciting to have finally completed a long and involved project to the best of your ability, then yes. Like building a barn, or finishing renovations, or having a baby. What publishing has in common with those things is that the end purpose is not in finishing the effort, but in living in the change you’ve made afterward.

You don’t build a barn or have a baby just to sit back and admire it afterward and then go about your life as you had before. It’s the beginning of a new phase, where you now have set a new piece in play and new events are poised to occur.

It isn’t a milestone. That would imply the existence of a road.

I could not consider Penance finished until it was published where readers could read and enjoy it. Why would I even bother going through the trouble of writing and editing the story in my thoughts if I didn’t intend to communicate them? Penance’s story is one I think is valuable and worth telling. Fiction can handle ideas so abstract they can only be conveyed in a story, where readers can live in them alongside the characters until the final page. Maybe some of what I’ve learned has made it to my work, and truth will coalesce in the minds of my readers from among the pages of my books. But to do that, it has to be read.

For me, the exciting part will be when I know that it’s been read and loved, like I’ve read and loved so many stories.

For now, life is an unfamiliar shape. I’m not used to considering my primary job to be writing and talking about and outright asking people to buy my book, no matter how interesting I think it is and how proud I am of finishing it and how much I believe it truly is an excellent read. While it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, I know that nobody will read it unless they know about it, and it’s my responsibility to make sure that I make it easy to find and increase the chances that it’ll find the people who’ll love it. I don’t have a process for this yet, just a wide-open field and a ton of things to remember, and some of the things I remember most as being important are also things that are completely out of my hands at the moment. It’s hard not to obsess over those instead of knocking out what I do have control over. It’s hard to sit down and write and not think I’m being lazy about something else that used to take up most of my time. It’s hard to use social media purposefully and not just browse forever, keeping up with what everyone else is up to and deleting my own before I ever post them.

Nobody can tell if I don’t read everyone else’s thoughts first. Nobody is keeping track of whether it’s my turn to speak. There’s no such thing as posting too much because most of my followers will never see it at all (thanks to the algorithms shuffling everything). I know the reality of publishing requires a lot of promotion.

But still, it feels pushy. It seems like I’ve spoken out more about this book than I have anything in my life. It feels like I must have mentioned it at least once to everyone in my range, and harping on it will just wear out my welcome. If people wanted to read it, they’d have bought it already. I should try to find new people to tell about it, but without abandoning the previous ones, because I do think they’re interesting and insightful even if they don’t buy my book. I should think of new, interesting things to say so they’ll be entertained when they visit my site. I should be a good hostess of my digital spaces and set out enjoyable refreshments, not bait for sales pitches.

Frequently I can’t think of what to do, so I do nothing. Sometimes I get as far as having a good idea but I’m stuck on the execution. I feel tired and blue and that’s nobody’s fault or a problem to burden anyone with. It just is, and I’ll be over it soon, once I identify and cross off a few more of these thousands of tiny things weighing me down.

At least the book doesn’t need me to feed it every two hours, though goodness knows I check on it that often. Perhaps having children prior to having a book has trained me in the wrong kind of discipline. I can’t stop and coddle this one. I have more writing to do.

Stories are meant to be satisfying, as a life well-lived, condensed into the length it takes to tell them, the details echoing and rhyming other details to drive the story forward to completion. I have two more books of story left in this arc and this space between book one and books two and three are only a temporary rest. It isn’t done – just the first part.

I know what happens next and why, for the most part. It’ll all get clearer as I go, as long as I don’t force the story into a shape it doesn’t belong in. Sometimes this means writing weird paragraphs that don’t connect to anything and then stitching them in later. Later, it’ll mean cutting out things that turn out to not belong after all. A lot of the difficulty is in keeping these two stages separate, because cutting before I’m finished measuring will leave me short of material.

Writing takes hours of time that are not-writing, and that’s a little tricky too, because while I have the same hours in a day that everyone else has, mine seem broken up into dozens of tiny pieces of switching from doing one little thing to another, that won’t stay done even if I do manage to complete it, and changing course so often takes more time than doing any of them. I’ll adjust, and gradually a system will emerge from the chaos, and I shouldn’t beat up on myself for the state of things in the meantime.

So yes, it is exciting to have a book published. And I’m very happy, and I’m also a little scattered and lost and there’s a long way yet to go.

See you in the OtherRealm,


You can buy my new YA superhero novel Penance direct from the publisher HERE

Or find it on Amazon

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These are my thoughts and opinions. The interior of the mind is the last bastion of freedom.