What Would Frank Say? Lessons in Obscurity



So here we are. Thursday was a great day for me. Most relevant to this blog is that November 15 marked the day of my third book release. Yes! Don’t Say Goodnight, the first installment in my Say Anything novella series went live. Finally! Takes a deep breath and exhales. I won’t lie; my first two releases rattled my confidence. I didn’t do as well as I hoped. In fact, so far my sales and free downloads have been dismal. No matter how much I tried to prepare myself, nothing prepared me for the moment after my first book published and it didn’t get better with the second or third try.


It is the culmination of months, sometimes years of writing and refining. A laborious effort that comes with little validation outside of the gratification that you put thought into action and fully realized an idea. You created a story.  Good or bad, it’s out there in the ether and you cannot control what comes next. To best explain, imagine you’ve put all your hopes and dreams into this one moment and then a minute, hour, day, week, month passes and with each tumbleweed that rolls through your royalty report or review that goes unwritten, you begin to question whether you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life. The doubt sets in. The anxiety. You avoid conversations with loved ones because you don’t want them to know that you’re not as confident in your writing. Don’t want them to see that they may have been right and that your dream career is really the glorified hobby they warned you about. The word hack starts hovering in your mind as you wonder if it isn’t best to take the path of least resistance and write flowery porn. I mean, at least you’d earn a living and actually have fans. Not everyone can be a James Baldwin, Toni Morrison or Mary Gaitskill.

But then you remember why writing is so important in your life.

If I were to change or alter the reasons why I write (to sell books), why not close the laptop, put on an apron at Walmart, and start greeting customers? At least I’d have a steady paycheck. In the end, I realize that yes, my efforts may end up futile and lead me on an obscure road to nowhere. My stories may never be dissected and analyzed in college classrooms now or posthumous. Never find their way to a larger audience outside of my family and friends. The name on the book cover may be forgotten in time; a dot among many buried in the expanse of infinite space. But for a moment, when my life meets its end, at least I can smile and remember that I did it my way. Isn’t that what Frank would say?