Do you remember the kid who always showed up first for class because she wanted to make sure she got a seat in the back row where she wouldn’t be seen hanging her head and trying to melt into her desk? The kid who never said “boo” in the hallway and shuffled past like she had somewhere important to go, but you knew she didn’t? The awkward girl with the light in her eyes that said she wanted to belong, but had no idea what to say, or do, to make that happen? She knew the answers to the teacher’s questions, but she never raised her hand.
That was me.
I’d like to claim I’ve busted out of my cocoon, and there have been times in my life when it seemed like I had. But no.
Back in my awkward high school days, all I wanted was to get through my classes, get home as soon as possible, and hide out in my room with my nose stuck in a book; the one place I felt comfortable. Many years later, I still don’t know what caused me to be so reclusive. I wasn’t always that way, I had a vibrant, outgoing attitude as a child, adventurous even. But something drastically changed after I entered high school. One school counselor suggested I had repressed a traumatic memory. If I did, it’s still in hiding. Whatever it was, my life became a series of hurdles as I attempted to overcome my reclusive tendencies. Was it possible? Why would I even try? Because I don’t ask for help when I know I should.
One time, when I was attending college in Syracuse, NY, a friend hired me to paint her kitchen. I’m amazing with a paintbrush and she wanted to go from a drab white to a mellow yellow. So, I cracked open the can and took to my task while she went shopping. She said she would be away for four or five hours. Thing is, Syracuse is in the snow belt, it gets hit hard in the winter months, and a deep freeze can blow in at any time with the lake effect. So, there I am, painting away and enjoying the music playing in the background, when I realize I need something from outside. (I don’t remember what it was, but I know I needed it to continue my work). So, I carefully put my brush down and went outside to get what I needed. No coat, I’d only be outside for a minute. You guessed it, the door closed behind me and locked. There were no cell phones at that time, so calling for help was not an option. I’m standing outside with no coat, it’s flarkin’ below zero, and my friend won’t be back for at least three hours. I frantically searched around the home, looking for a way in without breaking a door or window and found nothing. Long story, short…I sat shivering on a bench on her front porch, staring at all the surrounding houses with smoke curling out of their chimneys, thinking, “I really should go ask someone if I can huddle in the warmth of their home until my friend gets back.” Did I? No.
I actually risked death by hypothermia to avoid the shame of asking for help. How stupid is that? I mean, really. I relate this story, with great reluctance, to show you just how deep-seated shyness can be. I’ve come a long way since Syracuse, I won’t risk my life to protect my cocoon anymore, thankfully, but I still have a long way to go. Most of the time, my introversion wasn’t really a “thing,” for me, with the exception of extreme circumstances like the story above. I figured I was born that way because of my passion for writing, which requires a great deal of solitude. And so, I thought, perhaps being an introvert wasn’t a curse after all, but a gift; one that would help me attain my passion. Everyone knows writers are solitary people. What a perfect fit for me.
Jump ahead twenty years. Now, I’ve got numerous short stories under my belt and five novels written. Hoozah! But, when I came out of my shell long enough to examine the publishing arena, I found no reputable agent will even look at a writer’s work unless they have what they call a marketing “platform.” What’s that, I wondered? So, I Googled it.
A marketing platform, it seems, is a large group of people who consist of a “ready-made audience.” The way to build such a platform is through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Blog sites, etc. Well, shoot me with purple bullets, I’m still a recluse and awkward as all hell around people, even from behind a computer monitor. Do you mean to say I’ve spent all these years writing books no one will ever read because I’m not the life of the party? Seriously?
Have you ever read a lousy book that has 4,052 reviews on Amazon and wondered how in the hell such a terrible book ever made it to the shelves?
In a nut-shell, a traditional publishing company will publish a book about the most expedient way to spread genital warts if it’s written by Kim Kardashian (because she built a massive platform with her… with… let’s just say she built it), but they won’t touch a literary masterpiece written by some no-name muckle-ruck hiding out on Walden’s Pond (because no one knows him).
Hell’s bells and billy-goat balls. I felt like I stepped on a landmine. Look at all the pretty pieces of my life blown into the stratosphere, raining down like useless specks of glitter.
I don’t want to be a celebrity. Pink washes me out and I don’t imagine I’d look any better in lime-light. I only want to write fun books that entertain and share them with readers who appreciate a good story.
And so, I self published two of my books last year and one this summer. They’re well-written and fun, if you like adventure novels with a humorous twist. They’ve been collecting dust on Amazon’s shelf…no sales, month after month. This isn’t uncommon for Indie novels. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” they say, and I’m told I haven’t squeaked loud enough, or long enough. So, please, consider this blog a big squeak.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to my room…I have another book to write.