The hard work of writing my crime fiction novels has brought me joy, some success, and even enjoyment, this setting down of dark crime fiction for others to read.
But once in a while the passion fades. And it becomes plain work that I just don’t want to do. I learned long ago that you can’t publish a fine book and hope that it will attract readers. Sadly it doesn’t work that way.
What I don’t enjoy is the constant striving that’s called marketing. To me, it feels like pushing and shoving, shouting and grabbing. I wish I could believe that I have written a crime novel that everyone in the world will love and it’s my duty to share it with them. That’s what you need to spend your own money to find readers. To jump up and down waving your book at passing traffic to get attention.
Yet the murder mystery game has introduced me to some fine people, other writers and fans of the genre. These writers’ conferences I go to are fun. I still love to read crime fiction. I love to keep track of other writer’s lives and writing careers.
I’ve enjoyed the chance to say what I really think about the way we behave in this wrong-headed society we live in. Writing a mystery allows you to sneak in a little social commentary, to put words in character’s mouths and arrange them in situations that light up your own world view. Damn little chance, though, or readers rebel. You can’t get preachy.
Maybe there isn’t the same mystery in the game for me nowadays. I’ve learned, over the course of many year’s study, as much about police procedure in big and small departments as is necessary to know to create a fictional world that is convincing. I’ve learned something about story craft, character creation, and storytelling. I’ve got some chops, a little inborn talent. What I’m lacking right now is momentum.
I’ve got a crime novel in the can that’s been edited and proofread, another eBook nearly completed on the craft of writing mysteries, and enough short stories to put together to make another book—and I just don’t have the energy or purpose right now to take the next steps to bring them into the market.
I don’t know yet where these feelings will take me. For one thing, they’re feelings and feelings come and go. Facts remain. I’ve had some success measured by modest sales and visibility.
I’m waiting for my Muse to sneak up behind me and crash a picture frame down over me so that I can see my reality with a new perspective. The answer probably isn’t falling in love instead of taking a break from writing. Or taking up an absorbing interest like golf? Moving to Montreal? I love Montreal, but oh, the winters.
I do know that the Psyche always provides what is needed. Not always on demand. Usually the answers are found in the application of fingers to keyboard. I know now to keep writing through the hard times, exploring a short story perhaps. Plenty of ideas came to me while I was in Montreal recently.
Perhaps when I say it out loud like this, I’ll hear myself finding that springboard to launch myself off into what’s next in life. It could happen. My fickle crime fiction muse will return.
And how do you get yourself out of fallow periods like this?