I Don’t Want to Play
March 18, 2021 § 23 Comments
9 a.m. Tuesday morning
Remember how when we were kids, sometimes we’d just walk away from what the other kids were doing? “I don’t want to play,” we’d say. And we’d go home and pout.
Well, that’s how I feel today. I don’t want to play this writer game anymore. Not the writing itself, but all the other nonsense that goes with it.
I think I blew my Zoom talk last night. I blathered for 45 minutes straight. With “share screen” showing my handout and the audience on “mute,” I couldn’t see anyone’s faces or hear any reactions. Was anyone even listening? Afterward, I gorged on banana bread to comfort myself, so there goes my diet, too.
I had spent an hour trying various setups on my laptop, but I tested it during daylight. In the evening, everything, including my face, had a blue tint. I’d gotten all dressed up with jewels and my red blazer and red lipstick. Did I look like a fool?
I got another rejection yesterday. Eighteen “no’s” in two months. One yes.
Amazon returned a copy of my Childless by Marriage book. “Overstock,” the slip said. I guess nobody wanted to buy it, and they decided this copy had sat too long. Crap.
I have 11 books out. Woohoo. But check my sales. Most of the time, people are only buying three of them, the nonfiction ones, and mostly the Kindle versions, which are cheaper. Nobody wants to pay full price for a book anymore. I need to do more marketing. More networking, more PR, more social media. But I’m a writer, not a salesperson.
A local newspaper editor invited me to write for her. I could go back to doing interviews, taking pictures and writing short articles on deadline. Over the years, I have written thousands of those. There would be no marketing, I’d be published regularly, and I’d get paid. But it would take me away from the creative nonfiction and poetry to which I am supposed to be devoting myself these days. I said no. Should I have said yes?
I’m past retirement age. Why not just spend these years quilting, crocheting, and watching daytime TV?
4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon
On my walk with the dog, we ran into our neighbor Cheryl. She’s 72, partnered with Alex, who is dying of lung cancer. A couple weeks ago, she invited us to join her in her sunroom where she and her cat Charlie were going to get high, Charlie on catnip and Cheryl on weed. Can’t, I said. I have to get back to work.
Normally we only talk about dogs, gardening, health, and the neighbors. We don’t know each other’s last names or life history. “Work?” she said. “What kind of work?”
Well, then I had to confess that I’m a writer.
“No kidding! I had no idea. What’s your name?” She rolled her eyes at the three-name business with Fagalde in the middle. I told her she could learn everything at suelick.com. I didn’t expect her to remember or to look me up.
Today, on Cedar, there she was, walking slowly to strengthen her gimpy knee. She asked if she could join us. Right away, she started telling me how she was reading my books one after another and she just loved the way I write. Up Beaver Creek made her cry, but in a good way. Now she’s reading Unleashed in Oregon and loving it. Then she’s going on to Stories Grandma Never Told . . .
Wow. The website worked. I do want to play this writing game. It’s actually kind of fun.
If I can just remember that writing and being read are what count, I can manage the rest. I can keep submitting, marketing, speaking, networking, and all that other writer business as long as I know there are people like Cheryl reading what I write.
Every time I want to quit, the writer gods give me a kick in the pants to get me back in the game. An acceptance, an encouraging word, a reader who loved what I wrote. As we walked slowly toward home, the dog dashing between us and into the weeds to sniff for edible trash, my fingers itched to get back to the computer, back to the writing game.
Sue Fagalde Lick, a former California journalist, is a writer/musician/dog mom living with her dog Annie in the woods on the Oregon coast. Her books include Stories Grandma Never Told, Childless by Marriage, and Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Both. Every day at 2:30, her dog insists she leave the computer and visit the real world for a while.