A lightbulb beamed on over my head the other day. It was the result of a phone conversation with my grown son, Jake. He knows his way around a hard time or two. He’s a writer of screenplays in addition to plays for the stage, and struggling under the vicissitudes of free-lancing as a videotape editor, he continues to keep faith with his chosen vocation. I honor that in him. He just won’t quit.
Me, I’ve tried to quit, and ultimately failed to. I love the process of writing too much. I’ve been submitting work for many years, but succeeded only in getting my non-fiction actually published. My son said (for the umpteenth time), as I complained of my frustration, my rage against the machine, “Mom, why not self-publish?”
I had been stubbornly resistant to the idea, though I mulled it constantly and never ruled it out, quite. Bill, my hiking-in-the-Marshlands pal, once commented with evident horror, “Self-publishing? How can you even consider that? You’ll be throwing yourself into a vat of shit!”
Now, Bill’s a smart, sophisticated guy, and I saw what he meant. I continued to hold out for the validation and challenges I imagined I’d find in being published traditionally. Every aspect of a corporate collaboration was attractive to me. From working closely with an editor to meeting a deadline (and meeting your book in print-!) to promoting the work felt exciting.
Blessed with the opportunity to write, produce and direct documentaries for the past fifteen years, I’ve been happily immersed in storytelling, but in the end, fiction is my first love.
My friend and neighbor, writer/editor Catherine Hiller, says of my decision, “I’m so glad you’ve changed your mind. We live in a changed publishing landscape and writers should embrace all the opportunities that exist.”
Hiller ought to know. She has authored five novels, a story collection, and earlier this year, a memoir, JUST SAY YES.Art is interactive by its very nature. It must be seen or heard to come to life. It’s time to drag my stories out of the dark and into the world. Starting with the novels.
I’ve got two of ‘em ready to roll out. The first, OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES, written in 1996 and revised and polished in 2012 , is a coming-of-ager in which seventeen year old Queenie, the pregnant protagonist, has been sent off from her humble roots to to live with a wealthy family for the duration, and when their troubled son arrives home from college unexpectedly, things get even dicier.
More recently I completed THE DARK SIDE OF TIME. It likewise shares a theme of houses as a metaphor for the self, but the dwellings in question here are very, very haunted. Written in the classic tradition of Shirley Jackson ‘s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, mashed up with ROSEMARY’S BABY, it’s a psychological thriller and a love story within a love story, which explores the uncanny and the ineffable. At the same time it contemplates our troubled world, who and what we worship, and how far we’d go to attain the things we may only think we want.
Who needs to wait to be “discovered”? I’m lucky to live in a time when DIY publishing is a viable option. I have my work cut out for me, but I feel liberated and enthusiastic about the possibilities. Now, the power is all mine.