I'm not sure of the precise reason, but, when I think of the life of the independent author, this is the song that comes to mind. Okay, the actual reason, the apparent reason is a great part of it: "On this lonely road, trying to make it home... I see them long, hard times to come." It really says it all, even if there is more than just that in the song that resonates with me and this path.
The life of the indie writer is a long, hard, lonely road. Well, unless you just get lucky right at the start. Most of us, though, will not get lucky and any success we achieve will come at the end of a long, hard road.
Right now, I am feeling that long, hard road, and it doesn't feel as if I brought enough water along.
But I knew what I was getting into, or onto, when I started this journey; I do not, however, think a lot of writers who choose to go the indie route really know what kind of journey they're starting. At the beginning, there is some hold-your-breath expectation to be one of those lucky few that have the stars align and light your path with gold-showered success as soon as you step onto the path. You learn very quickly, after that, to breathe... or pick yourself up off of the ground after you've passed out.
And the real problem with the indie road is that it's not, yet, well-trod, no matter how many people are on it. The paths of traditional publishing are well established, paved even, not that they are any less long and hard these days. The buses and limos that used to pick authors up along the way on the traditional road are becoming fewer and fewer and more and more authors are being forced to walk that road rather than catching a ride. But, still, it's clearly marked, and it's hard to get lost.
The road for the indie author, though, is more like a big field, a huge field, with people wandering around in it trying to figure out in which direction to go. There are what amounts to game tracks here and there where several authors have gone before, but those paths fade away and become unclear and harder to follow as the terrain becomes rough. We're just out there trying to figure out which way to go, full of questions without answers, so much so that we forget the questions.
This journey's too long, I'm looking for some answers
So much time stressing, I forget the questionsThe real issue is that too many people set out without an actual destination, a goal, in mind beyond that vague hope for fame and fortune. Fame and fortune, though, are not a destination. It may happen but not because there's a road that leads there. Not a seen road, anyway; it's more like an unseen highway that may or may not coincide with the road you're on. If you are, in fact, on a road and not just wandering around hoping to find fame and fortune as if you are in an Arkansas diamond field.
So how do you find your way?
Find your mountain. Pick your point on the horizon and go towards it. You don't have to worry about anyone else's path that way. If you find a path that is going in the same direction, great, but, if you find what looks like a great path but it's leading in some other direction, don't take it. Stick to your path, your road, no matter how long and hard it is. The only question is, "What is your mountain?"
Mine, right now, which is only like a foothill in the overall picture, is finishing Brother's Keeper. That's my point on the horizon. Of course, right now, I'm still working my way off of the path that was called Shadow Spinner, and I have to finish crossing that plateau now that I'm on the top before I can start climbing the next hill, but I am ready to start on that next hill.
So, yeah, you climb your first mountain and find out that it was only just a foothill of a much larger mountain, but, you know what, that's okay. That's the way it goes. And you keep climbing. And you keep climbing. And you keep climbing. You make it past each peak, and you keep going, and, one day, you find that you have reached the top, the real top, and you cross over to the other side, the side with all the people, and they see you come across in the sunrise, you who have never been there before, and they look up at you and wonder about your "overnight success," because, remember, you weren't there the day before, and you look down the long, long, slope behind you, you look back at the hills and valleys, all of which you crossed, and you kind of smile because you know how long "overnight" really was. But it's okay, because you're there.
Or maybe not, because, for you, maybe there is another mountain, and you see that the long, hard road keeps going and that there are more "Long Hard Times To Come." But that, too, is okay. You rest a bit, refill your water bottles, and set your feet back on the path and keep going.
(This post has been brought to you, in part, by Indie Life.)