Having more or less finished Corvus, and beset by the wretchedness, even desolation, of saying goodbye to people i.e. characters who have come to seem like intimate acquaintances, I embarked on a bout of self-promotion in the last couple of days. What a demeaning and dispiriting endeavour! Most people assume you’re a wannabe something – wannabe published writer, wannabe bestselling superstar, wannabe prize-winner. The Big Guys of the internet – if they answer at all – spend more time telling you why they don’t read online writers than it would actually take to give your work a quick look. Yeah, they’re busy, and yeah, there’s masses of stuff online, most of it – let’s be frank – crap. (Please don’t ask me where I think I fit in here, since my answer varies according to mood and whether I’m dieting.) And the little guys, though often kinder, are generally aspiring to the very things you’ve turned your back on. Most of them want a hug, or at least for you to read their writing. (Listen to me, I’m beginning to sound like one of the Big Guys.)
If you’re going the indie route, keep one thing in mind then: no one cares. Lest you didn’t hear me, I’ll repeat it: no one cares. So write because you want to, or have to, or promised your Inner Shakespeare you’d give it a bash, but don’t, and I mean don’t, think about readers. At best, one reader: yourself.
As Kurt Vonnegut said (though I believe Colm Toíbín may be missing Vonnegut’s love of satire):
Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
Funny indeed, but like most humour, works because it strikes a chord – contains a truth we need Vonnegut to remind us about.