I read my friend's email incredulously. "Why don't you edit an anthology about pubic hair?" This from someone who works in publishing?
What I think people don't seem to understand is that this is a business, first and foremost, like anything else. I just got a royalty check, and while it was bigger than any others I've received (and I have more books out than I did last time), there was something on there that made me very sad. I won't go into every detail, except to say that one of my books sold an extremely low number. I mean, practically nothing, and I am in no way exaggerating.
At first, I took that to mean that my book sucked, even though I don't think so (I almost said "obviously," but you know what? Some of them do. Not necessarily through any fault of my own, but slap an horridly ugly cover on smut that was ill-conceived in the first place then get no support from the people behind it, and there you go). But it really doesn't matter why the book sold so poorly, only that I not do that again.
I can only afford to work on books that I have a reasonable expectation of doing well. I didn't use to think this way. I thought it was "an honor" to be published. I thought publishing anything was better than nothing. I agreed to things that made my skin crawl, then later scrambled to get out of them, lest I look totally stupid. I believed the hype, when really it wasn't me they wanted, but "a Village Voice sex columnist."
I'm at a point where I am really trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. The truth is, I have no idea. I stumbled into this and found that I could write about sex, non-fiction and fiction, but that was never supposed to be "what I'm doing with my life." And now I'm not sure. There are obligations I have to fulfill, and I will, but they don't fit any more than "sex columnist" ever did as an identity.
The only one I truly feel okay with, and maybe this is my own sex-negative insecurities coming out, is cupcake blogger. I'm so proud of what we've achieved there, of the over 100 interviews I've conducted, of the fact that I'm speaking at the fucking Princeton Club next month to PR people, of the cupcake speaking engagements I'm arranging for 2009. I put my heart and soul into that blog and I feel like I get back what I give to it in umpteen ways, not just via Foodbuzz.
I'm searching for that with editing and writing, searching for that feeling I had standing in the Chelsea B&N, which no longer exists, with tears in my eyes at a pay phone calling Tristan (yes, it was so long ago I didn't have a cell phone!) when I held in my hands the very first book to every publish my work. Maybe you never get that back. Maybe I'm tired. Or burned out. Or jaded. Maybe I'm ready for something new. I have ideas zooming through my head (will post about a new book idea I'm working on in a minute), but I can't work on them all, at least not at the same time.
So that's where I'm at, some of what I'm dealing with. It's a constant struggle, and sometimes the rewards seem worth it, and other times they don't. I'm brainstorming new ways to attack publicity, for me, my reading series, my blogs/sites, and just trying to stay interested, cause once I lose that, I'm a goner.