Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Balancing Act

I didn't write a single word for my novel today, and that's okay.

Let me back up; today was a bit of a whirlwind.  Word came down yesterday that the press conference to introduce Jeff Fisher as the new Rams Head Coach would happen Tuesday afternoon.

Little did I know that reclusive Rams owner Stan Kroenke would also make an appearance at the presser, which would ultimately lead to an extended column over on insideSTL.  It was fun to write, but it took a long time to say what I wanted to say in just the right way; unlike the novel, it's a matter of writing and editing--editing the novel will come once the first draft is complete.

Not that I'm complaining; I love working for Tim and the other folks over there. I even filled in on the IBON show this morning from 600-700.  I'm certainly very grateful for the forum and their confidence in me as a writer and radio contributor.

At the same time, when you're writing a novel and really starting to get into it, every day that you don't work on it is a "lost day" in some sense.  I'm truly my own boss at the moment, and hoping to get to 100 pages by the end of the week.  That goal took a bit of a hit today, but it's still very doable if I redouble my efforts for the rest of the week.  I've finally built the necessary discipline into my routine that writing a novel full-time demands, but sometimes things come up.  It happens.

So that begs the question; why am I okay with this?  For a combination of reasons.  First of all, as I mentioned above, I really do enjoy the work of covering football, and I think that anything I'm working on is worth doing well.

But as an aspiring novelist, I'm also all too aware of the need to build a "platform;" a group of folks that are fans of your work for one reason or another.  This need is magnified if you decide to self-publish, which I am very strongly considering.

That's the somewhat "ugly" part of the business for me; I don't want to come across as anything but appreciative for all of you out there that have supported my endeavors over the past eight months or so, especially those of you that kept reading during what became a challenging (in the best possible way) Rams season. The feedback has been fantastic, and I really do enjoy interacting with folks on twitter and facebook.

It's all a balancing act; as a writer, I need to write. It's what I really enjoy most. Now that I've immersed myself in it as a full time job, the creative outlet is indispensable, and is what I truly get up for every day.

At the same time, the simple truth of it is that as more people read your stuff, the better you can do in this business, either through greater exposure, or via more folks that enjoy your work and (at least far, far in the future when it becomes a full-fledged novel) and are willing to throw a few shekels your way to read it.  I strive to provide an excellent product at an unbeatable price (read free) in this blog and over at insideSTL, and I'll always produce plenty more free stuff, as close to daily as I can manage.  But building up that readership is ultimately very important.

In exchange, I just ask that if you enjoy what you read, and are even entertained by it, keep reading.  To a writer, that means a lot.  Maybe it's some sick sense of validation, or some equally twisted theory that I'd need to go through tons of therapy to fully come to terms with, but the simple matter is that all writers want to be read more than anything else--if they don't, then I hate to say it, but they're probably in the wrong business.  For me, it's not even the sense that "I have something important to say--HEAR ME OUT!" that so many aspiring writers seem to have, or trying to work through some deep-rooted psychological issues as a therapy substitute. In my case, I just want to entertain some of you, get you smiling and thinking, and maybe, just maybe, help out a few folks with tough situations along the way.

It's a very roundabout way of trying to address how to balance "platform-building" activities with novel-writing, which is truly my number one goal at the moment.  It's just another part of the transition from beat writer to novelist, one that I still continue to feel out on a day-to-day basis.

Though I must say, I'm excited to get back to writing a lot tomorrow; this bug is truly infectious.

And by that, I mean the novelist bug...not some kind of contagious disease...I think...

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for insideSTL.com, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at djssuperblog@gmail.com.  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

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