In honor of Halloween, I’m dedicating today’s post to my demon. He’s possessed me for as long as I can remember, compelling me to write, whether anyone reads my words or not. Over the years I’ve sacrificed vast quantities of time, ink, and paper to appease him.
My demon makes me write for an hour or two every day. Fortunately, he’s easy to please. As long as I’m writing something, he’s happy. Letters to friends, email messages — even making a list counts. Waiting for replies annoyed the demon, and one can only make so many lists. Eventually, I had to write something else.
The personal journal I started in 1979 to appease my demon fills twenty volumes. The quantity is far more impressive than the content. Despite what you might think, 99.9% is stunningly dull — a lot of over-thinking, complaining, or whining about something or someone, intermixed with plenty of tooting my own horn. Like I said, he’s not real picky. Anything I write satisfies my demon.
Blogging opened my eyes to new uses for writing skills I didn’t know I had. The desire to entertain or inform (I bounce back and forth between the two) added a new element to my sacrificial writing. Nourished by reader feedback, my demon grew.
Becoming an author gave my writing ritual purpose, direction, and new challenges. Reaching the end of a story I’ve created from start to finish is immensely satisfying. I’m happy. My demon is content. All is right in my world.
Writing novels keeps the demon at bay and gives me something to show for my time and effort. Anything more is icing on the cake. I’m honored that people buy my work. Hearing from readers who enjoyed a story makes my day.
I’d love to get rich from my royalties, but finding an audience takes time. I’m a new author in a tiny subset (historical) of a small, but growing sub-genre (gay fiction) hiding in m-m romance — a niche market. Paying for conferences, promotional materials, my web site, and other expenses pretty much keeps me in the red.
Putting out more would help. (That’s what he said — hahahaha!) But for now, I do well to write a novel a year, and that’s okay. With each new story, my audience grows. One of these days, I might even break even.
But it’s okay if I don’t. The paychecks from my day job give me the freedom to keep writing the stories I want to write on my own schedule. I don’t have to worry about publishing a new novel every other month and selling enough copies to pay my mortgage or put food on the table.
Thank God. The one time I asked the publisher for a deadline, I totally freaked out and swore I’d never do that to myself again. Besides, with a demon like mine, who needs deadlines?