Hello, fellow humans.
My last blog post [read here] talked about my career in transition, the various projects and directions I had before me, and what I was generally up to. Since then, things have changed. Life has a habit of doing that to you, whether you expect it or not.
For personal and mental-health reasons, I’m no longer working on the co-author project. There was no problem with the other author and no breakdown in communication or direction. My circumstances ultimately meant I was unable to work on it in the manner I wanted. It’s not necessarily done forever. The project is still an exciting one and remains a possibility. For the present, however, it is off the table.
That leaves me with the two concepts for a publisher and the urban fantasy series I briefly mentioned. That aside, my biggest hurdle over the last few years has been dealing with change—both with myself and the wider world.
The main issue I’ve had to deal with, and mostly failed if I’m honest, is the ever-shifting landscape of publishing. For me, in the most part, that means the Amazon eco-system. The competition for visibility has increased by orders of magnitude since I was releasing regularly a few years ago (mostly under pen names); organic reach has given way to paid sponsorship via Amazon’s advertising mechanism; we have seen the introduction of big-name authors out-sourcing their production of books to ghost-writers to keep the algorithm in their favour.
Much like the real world, the digital world has manifested the Pareto Distribution. I would argue that it’s amplified in the digital world because of the all-encompassing algorithms that drive the most significant sources of influence (Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, Instagram et al.). As these platforms mature, the winners become entrenched, scooping up more and more of the available pie.
Staying on top, or even within a reasonable mid-list position, requires embracing change, almost daily at times. Some people are great at this and can thrive in it.
I’m not one of those people. I like stability. I need balance because of my stupid brain and clinical depression that, much like the constant change, is always in flux. Some days/weeks, I’m a healthy, productive member of society. Other times I’m a wreck of indecision, over-thinking, anxiety, and low mood.
Writing is a crazy career for anyone. It’s often joked that writers are mentally unstable. Are unstable people drawn to writing, or does writing make people unstable?
In my personal experience, it’s both. I don’t work well with other people in general. I’m not a team player. Not that I’m unreasonable, it’s just that I work better on my own or at most with a single partner. I don’t do well managing other people (they change too damn much!), and I don’t thrive when I have too many variables to juggle. I’m a deep-worker. Give me a problem or a system that needs building and the time to think about it, and I can usually come up with a solution. Writing then was an obvious choice, especially as I was an avid reader and lover of story in general.
I’ve been doing this gig fulltime since 2012 after I jacked in a career in the optical/retail industry. It only gets harder. The changes are coming ever quicker, and the skillset is broader. Being a writer is no longer enough. You need to be a productivity wizard, analytic expert, marketing genius, copywriting guru, and all the while you have to try to remain sane enough to tell engaging stories in a manner that keeps juicing the all-mighty algorithms.
Because of this torrent of information, skill-acquisition, and constant change, it shifts one’s foundations, and when they are broken in the first place, it can make even the simplest of tasks feel daunting. It’s a big challenge for me, but I have little option. Writing is the only thing I want to do (and perhaps the only thing I can do). So, I have to do it and somehow find a way to exist in this ever-mutating industry.
Today, though, I’m going to drink a gallon of tea, listen to great music, and try to get some writing done. Everything else can wait, at least for a few hours.
Because by the time I’ve completed my current to-do list, I can guarantee that things will have changed again.