Saturday, December 29, 2012

It Was a Year


Well. It’s been a year all right.

Most of you who follow this blog know I lost my mom this year. That’s been hard. To put it as simply and mildly as possible.

Those who’ve followed my posts here even longer will remember that, last year and the beginning of this one, I was teetering on the edge of the chasm of no longer making a living as a writer. I know I’m lucky to have done so since 1998, but it was looking like that was drawing to a close. My books were not selling. At least, not here. In the UK they were doing well. I thought maybe their tastes were a bit different across the pond. I thought maybe people just didn’t want to read what I want to write. I tend to challenge the reader a bit, and I thought maybe not enough people wanted to be challenged by what they read.

I thought all kinds of things.

Unfortunately, what I didn’t think is that maybe it wasn’t really a reflection on the work.

In March of this year, almost exactly the same time my mom went on Hospice care, one of my Indie adult books, When I Found You, took off in Kindle. It made it up to #12 in Kindle paid, with a popularity ranking of #3 in Kindle, #5 on Amazon as a whole. Granted, this was only for a few days, but I actually got to see it hovering between a couple of Hunger Games books on the Kindle home page. It made enough of a splash that Amazon publishing approached me and picked up two titles. Enough that I am now making a living at my writing again. Catching up on some debt.

So, was it a happy year? A sad year? Yes. It was.

When I’m questioned about why I ended my novel Pay It Forward the way I did, I say a couple of honest and serious things. First of all, in my observation, we don’t make big, sweeping changes when everything’s fine. We change when the roof falls in. No pain, no change. I don’t like it any better than anybody else, but I am beginning to see that it has a purpose. Also, I don’t want to write an “all happy” ending because that’s not the world I see around me. What I see is more a process by which much is lost but even more is gained. My life is never all happy, but it’s usually good.

I can honestly say it was a year. 

7 comments:

  1. I liken life to a stained glass window...many elements showing all sorts of reality bits, some wonderful and beautiful, others far from either. I try to hold that image when things look bleak. Glad your writing is again paying bills because it's good stuff. I think your book The Year of my Miraculous Reappearance is probably the best book about a teen with substance abuse problems I've ever read.

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  2. I'm thrilled your sales have taken off, Catherine. I agree--"good stuff" indeed. I always love it when I've got a yet-to-be-read Hyde book on my Kindle.

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  3. Thank you so much, Berek. That's one of my more "under-discovered" books, so it means a lot when someone has read and appreciated it. That really makes my day.

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  4. "We change when the roof falls in. No pain, no change."

    I think this is mostly true, too. Sometimes we bring about change through happy events--pursuing educational goals, traveling, marrying, having children--but much of the deep change human beings make is driven by our recognition that something isn't working for us, or we've had a loss that forces us to deal with it.

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  5. Bravo to the Kindle sales and all that came from it.
    This post scares me, heartens me (is hearten a word? I hope it is!), and makes me ponder all at once. There are no guarantees, are there? And yes, I agree --no pain, no change. Failure is a great motivator for me, but oh it is painful. Except I know it's true that if you never fail, you're playing it far too safe.

    Keep at it! That's what I'm hearing. And I agree.

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  6. Bravo to the Kindle sales and all that came from it.
    This post scares me, heartens me (is hearten a word? I hope it is!), and makes me ponder all at once. There are no guarantees, are there? And yes, I agree --no pain, no change. Failure is a great motivator for me, but oh it is painful. Except I know it's true that if you never fail, you're playing it far too safe.

    Keep at it! That's what I'm hearing. And I agree.

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  7. It's interesting to me how much publishing as I understood has changed. Here's to making a living as a writer, by whatever means.

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