I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that I’ve been feeling so jaded and indifferent about some stuff, lately. And, true enough, life does have a nasty habit of sneaking up behind you and kicking you in the butt (really hard) when you’re least expecting it. But this happens to pretty much everyone at some point in their lives, so it’s really no excuse.
It’s what I do and why I’m doing it that’s evolved for me. I remember when my very first book came out in 1998–All I Need and other poems for kids. I self published and non-stop promoted. I hand sold over a thousand books in a matter of months and had to go into a second printing. I was ecstatic! One day in a bookstore while I was trying to convince them to carry my book, the owner said to me: “You’re going to get tired, you know.” And promptly bought three copies to sell in her store. Me tired, I thought. Nevah! Because for me it was all about the networking, the promoting, the schmoozing, talking to people in the industry, rubbing elbows with the right ones, getting known.
But as time went on, I remembered what that shop owner had told me. It kept sticking into me like a thorn in my sock. Because it was true. I’d started to get tired. More books did come out. I was getting there. But I had to launch ’em, had to try to promote ’em or else feel guilty. And the sad fact is that each subsequent book seemed to lose its lustre for me. Sure I was thrilled, but not quite as much. I kept on wondering where that feeling was, the one I had when my very first poem was published back in the 70s, or my first short story back in ’96. Then there was the time that I found out my short story had won first prize for a fiction award in 2000, out of about 90 other entries. I was shocked! I was ecstatic! But then I actually called backed the bearer of such good tidings to ask him if he was certain he’d called the right person.
What, I’ve been wondering, has become of that unmitigated glee, that scream-into-my-pillow rapture? Hmmm. Not so much any more. Back then I wanted to shout out to the world, wanted to go out into the writing world and introduce myself, and sell myself and convince myself, and everyone else, that yes, I had arrived. I was finally a writer, and I was finally entitled to be there, amongst them, because I’d proven myself. I was out there because I wanted to be, and I was totally loving it!
So what’s happened to me? What’s changed. After more than 25 books which are read by hundreds of thousands of kids internationally, with books translated into 8 languages, read in classrooms, in book clubs, and hopefully by kids hiding under their covers with flashlights…what’s happened to me that I don’t even want to be out there anymore?
And I think, honestly, that the store owner was right. I’m just plain tired! Tired of all the hype and the controversy and the networking and everything that goes hand-in-hand with this business of being a writer. Sure, FB is a good tool…it lets me be out there virtually, without being out there literally. But mostly I resent its intrusiveness and the way it can suck up your time.
I suppose I’ve become somewhat of a hermit by choice, opting not to participate so much any more in things that sap me creatively. Sure, I’ll attend the odd book launch or event, especially if I’m personally involved in it. But most of the time I prefer hiding out right here in my office, trying to avoid the real world and even the cyber one.
So if you’re looking for me, by any chance, or wondering, maybe, what’s become of D.L., you’ll find me right here, in front of my computer, butt in chair. Doing exactly what I want and need to be doing right now. Writing a story.