Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why Don't I Publish My Own Books?

My Muse is happy right now, a state that is hard to achieve and impossible to maintain. She's pleased with the progress of Medusa's Muse Press, and very excited to be working with a new author. She's also impressed by the growth of Laura's book. And she'll give me points for actually writing a full length play in one month. All bases are covered in my Muse's view. I am being productive AND creative. However...

"Why aren't you publishing you're own work?" she asked, flipping through my play for the hundredth time looking for things to revise.

"Um... I don't have anything ready yet."

"But you have a project in the works, right?"

"Yeah. It's not ready."

"It will be in a few months, IF you get working on it again." She stared at me so hard the end of my nose got cold.

"I will. Don't worry. I haven't dropped the project. If you haven't notice, I've been a little busy lately." I nodded toward the play in her hands. She smiled.

"Yes. I know. And I'm happy you finished something for a change." She set the play aside and leaned toward me. "But I think you're scared to publish you're own book and you'll keep hunting for things to keep you busy so you won't be able to finish it."

"I am not!" I folded my arms and tried to look confident. "Right now I prefer to work with other writers, not just myself."

"Sure you do." She twirled a snake around one finger thoughtfully and waited. I hate it when she does that.

"I like working with other people," I continued. "I'd much rather do that than have to do it ALL. I can't imagine trying to write a book AND make all the desicions about its design and cover AND try to market it. Publishing other people's work helps me gain perspective. I'm not so attached to every word on the page. I can make the tough choices. I'm not so sure I can wear both hats; author and publisher."

"Sounds rational." She kept twirling that snake until I feared its poor little head would pop off.

"The press is very important to me, more important than my own books. I love writing and I'll always do it, but I don't know if I'm ready to publish my own work."

"I think you're scared."

"Of course I am. That's not a surprise."

"I think you're also afraid of the stigma."

"What stigma?"

"That you can only get published by yourself."

There was a long awkward silence while we stared at each other; me trying to think of something intelligent to say and she trying not to grin. She knew she was right but I was darn sure not going to validate that.

I took a deep breath and said, "Don't be ridiculous. I have no bias against self-publishers."

"Yes you do."

"No I don't! I have a bias against bad writing, whether it's self-published or not. If the writing is good, then who cares who published it? In fact, people who can write well and self-publish are brilliant in my book. I sure can't do it."

She let go of the snake which sprung back against her head and gasped for breath, then she pointed her bony finger at me. "Exactly."

"Exactly what?"

"You're afraid. You think your writing might be so bad people will scoff and think you're one of the unprofessional publishers, incapable of seeing the problems with your own work."

All I could do was fold my arms around myself tighter and say, "I am not."

She stood and moved closer, resting her hand on my head. "It's okay. You can be afraid. You were afraid to start Medusa's Muse and now look at you. A full fledged publisher with one succesful book and two more on the way. So in time, you'll stop being afraid about publishing your own book."

"I never stopped being afraid you know."

"I know. But you did it anyway. Just like one of these days, you'll publish you're own book."

I knew she'd make me do it one of these days, whether I want to or not. She's that kind of muse.

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