Miss Otis Regrets…

When the words don’t come easily; I know I’m on the wrong track. As a rule, my fingers do a bad job of keeping up with my mind while I’m writing. Nonetheless, I’ve been limping along recently, plucking at the keyboard, not quite writing a murder mystery. Apart from the fact that the main character in my two novels, Charles Sutton, ghost, will not get out of my head; I’ve been splashing away in a sea of lines that I can’t use.

Over the past few months, I’ve eagerly read books on marketing, including John Locke’s book on how he sold a million e-books, and numerous, “How To,” blogs from authors who appear to be selling thousands of their own books every day. Many of them advise you to define the reading audience and then write specifically for that group.

Because I love a good murder story, and because there seems to be an absolutely humongous readership for that genre, I decided that I could sell lots more books if I wrote murders.

But alas, my love affair with the concept of writing to a specific demographic was tantamount to pimping out my Muse. It rebelled and then disappeared entirely. I gradually lost confidence in my ability to write much of anything at all, like a painter I used to know who couldn’t get a gallery to show his work. He eventually got a job in an ad agency, painting pictures of widgets for ad campaigns. I’d see him in the Pub, sad eyes drooping over the top of his beer mug, drinking away into the wee small hours.

This is not to say that Locke and others are wrong. They’re not only good writers but they’re quite right that writing to a marketing plan helps to sell books–kudos, hugs and my very best wishes to them all. 

However, me being me, I am forced by a quirk of nature to pay homage to my own peculiar brand of integrity. I am not only under siege by an ungodly compulsion to write what I see and what I believe, but I suffer through bizarre mental and spiritual earthquakes that impact my storylines.

Last night, I got my soul and my Muse back.

Like the character in Cole Porter’s famous song that begins, “Miss Otis regrets that she is unable to lunch today, Madam,” I shot down my false lover–that wanton desire for fame and fortune. If my fate is to be that of Miss Otis, and I am to be hung by my critics from the nearest tree; I will not send my regrets. I will carry on writing, first for myself, and then for everyone else. If a reader does not like my stories, that’s okay, there are millions of other books for them.

Yes, I know; I may be following the course of obscurity. I could fade into eternity like a silent little fart, but I will have said what I wanted to say. Perhaps only one lone reader will benefit from my work. That’s still better than never to have fallen in love with a character, or never to have been seduced by a word.   

When all’s said and done, when I’m staring at my toes in my final minutes on this earth, when all I have left is my tattered but unbroken, and perhaps silly, brand of integrity; I’ll still be plotting to sneak into the Light before the Devil knows I’m gone.

If you want to see what I’m on about, click on “The Novels” icon at the top left of this page…

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