unfinished business (and with apologies to Aaron Polson)

Last week, some of you might have noticed that I decided to go ahead and release The Only Moth Among the Dark on my own.  It was a tough decision because, if I’m honest, I as a consumer am very very hesitant to buy self published poetry.  While I am by no means the greatest poet in the land, I can safely tell you that self published poetry is even riskier that fiction: some if it is downright bad.

And maybe The Only Moth… is bad.  I have only the comments of several beta readers that it was entertaining and well-written.  But the primary reason I put it out was because I wanted it to be read.  So far, there have been only 4 sales.  That number could go no higher and I wouldn’t cry too much.  Even through traditional poetry publishing methods, numbers for such an oddly structured chapbook wouldn’t be anything to get excited over.  It’s just one of the sad facts about poetry.

Its release was also a reinforcement of one of the Number One Rules of Self Publishing: If you want to be successful, keep increasing your number of titles.  And today, I’m going to point out a fellow writer whom I greatly admire.  I was reading his collection These Darkened Streets on my phone during commercial breaks yesterday as the Redskins walloped the Giants.

Aaron Polson has ten (if I’m wrong on this, he can correct me because I feel like it’s probably more than ten…) self-released titles that have come alive in the course of the past year or so.  I have read several of them and enjoyed them all tremendously.  I use him as an example because I believe in some respects, the structure of our lives is somewhat the same.  Sure, I am pretty certain he enjoys his job more than I enjoy mine, but the solid demanding nature of a job is there among both of us.

So we both have demanding jobs.  He has two children, I have two children.  During the fall, his attention, like mine, is often momentarily segmented by an always hopeful and often infuriating football team.  And, as his blog has recently relayed, he has been doing quite a bit of home renovation.  Like, a shit-ton of it.

Still, he manages to produce a respectable word count most weeks, a productive hobby that his multiple releases can prove.

Meanwhile, I am still stumbling around a schedule of days that, when I first think about them, seem empty and full of writing opportunities only to eventually find that, when I rest my head on the pillow at the end of the day, no writing has occurred.  Why is that?  I have no idea.  I like to think I am dedicated to this craft I love so much, but often, it doesn’t seem as if there is enough time or energy.  I have seven possible titles in the works that, if I actually rooted my ass to my seat and gave them the attention they deserved, could be completed.

Here’s the run down.

Remember that novel Broken Skies I was going on and on and on about for about a year and a half?  Well, as it stands,it’s easily within 5,000 words of being wrapped up (making it a 75,000 word novel).   I have not finished it because the ending I have planned for it gets weaker and weaker every time I think about it.  While I adore the book in every way, it’s the one novel I’d be scared to set out into the wild in fear that no one else would enjoy it.  (Any beta readers would be appreciated to either confirm or negate this fear).

I have two novellas that are about 50% complete and another, titled The Way Down, that is basically done, but needs a final read through and extensive edits.  The reason for not wrapping these up is very broad (and full of excuses): I’m too focused on working on the Everything Theory books to peddle smaller works; 2 are period-pieces, which terrify me; releasing more books means more marketing and I hate marketing.

For someone who wants to make a living from this writing thing and becomes more nd more accepting of digital publishing on a daily basis, I’m certainly not being very productive, now am I?

Luckily, I am surrounded by other indie writers that continue to gain momentum (Polson… I’m looking at you!) to remind me that not only can it be done, but it can be done well.

The trick is to get off of your ass and write.  I have no idea why am finding that so hard to do lately.  (Hopefully the eventual release of Everything Theory will make the self doubt and slow progress worth it).



  1. You make me blush, Barry. Last night I made myself write 200 words. I’d been building closet shelves and painting all day.

    The 200 words were so-so, but I still wrote them. It’s really hard to get your butt in the chair.

  2. I know about that making yourself write thing. My most common method is to write on my cell phone’s email program (there’s no character limit) when I’m walking the dog or other mindless activities.

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