It takes rain to make rain. The most frustrating part of living in a drought may well be the nightly weather forecast, when the weather dude (or dudette) says, “All the ingredients for a good rain are here, but until we get some moisture, the system has nothing to work with.” And so you open the morning paper to see that the area a hundred miles east of you got pounded with flooding rain, ping-pong-ball-hail, and farmers are griping because it’s too wet to harvest the winter wheat. Meanwhile dust is dancing on the morning wind and the cracks in the ground of your yard are so deep that you’re pretty sure if you look carefully, you can see a group of people in a park practicing tai chi.
Without moisture in the ground, there’s nothing to evaporate and fuel the storms that bring more rain. All the air does is bake, sucking more water out of the plants and soil. It takes rain to make rain. Only after something pumps starter moisture into the area, be it the remains of a hurricane in the Gulf or the Pacific, or something sucking southeasterly winds up into the Plains with dew points in the 50s F, can the rainmaking weather systems produce rain.
Writing and culture seem to be a lot like waiting for rain. It takes someone saying “Hey, I’m tired of elegantly written, beautiful books without plots. I want characters that stand up and defend what they believe in. I’m tired of reading 400 pages of ‘brilliant prose’ about a woman having existential angst about her midlife crises over the course of a day of shopping.” And someone else chimes in, “Yeah. Me too. I want some big damn heroes.” And a writer ventures out into the waters, publishing a little electronic book and saying, “Hi. You might like this.” Or “Dear Big Publisher, sod off. I’m writing what I want to read and if other people buy it, great.”
One story becomes two, becomes three, becomes the first faint gust of moist wind. Other proto-authors see the new books, or encounter a reprinted swashbuckling classic, and say, “Hey! I’ve got one of those in my drawer.” Or they decide to venture out into the publishing waters with their own tale of adventure. (Captain Blood in space, anyone?) The damp gust becomes a stronger wind, bringing inspiration and ideas and motivation with it. And then the rain begins, or a wave. Let’s call it “human wave,” a storm of books about people of all colors and flavors, human and otherwise, fighting for truth, beauty, justice, and the right to be left alone. Or to win the hand of their true love. Or to defeat the evil wizard. Or just to survive on a hostile planet. And so the rain falls, bringing more rain, and refreshing readers thirsty for well-told tales and pretty-much happy endings.
You don’t need a hurricane to bring rain, just a steady, water rich wind.
Reminds me of how I tried with my first book to get an agent, and I had one very interested, but he was in New York, of course. He tested the waters at a literary do or some sort, and specifically mentioned the plot – about a wagon train party who came two years before the Donner Party, got caught in the snow in the same place … and yet did everything right to survive – and no one has ever heard of them (Which was my original pitch – the greatest story never told) and the agent reported that … no one he talked to had ever heard of them. (Sigh.) He said it was a great story, well written … but he just couldn’t market it.
And that, people, is why I gave up on Trad Pub, and never looked back.
Looks up the book on your website, does battle with Kindle, (To Truckee’s Trail doesn’t show up in the New! Improved! Kindle store on mine), goes to desktop and finds the book. Downloaded.
And don’t overlook the Sunday Morning Book Thread, on Ace of Spades HQ. Oregon Muse did it for ages, but he suddenly and sadly passed away, and now Perfessor Squirrel has taken it over. Much merriment and talk of books ensue. I would be willing to swear that just about every book that I have bought for pleasure reading over the last five or six years has been a book that came up in discussion in the Sunday Morning Book Thread.
Yes, and just like one lone small moisture source isn’t enough to power a raincloud, but many small moisture sources are… so I am grateful for your friendship, and the conversations where you help me talk out the nebulous thing in my head into much more concrete, tangible concepts, and throw a little silver dust of ideas into the clouds to spark the fall of words upon the page.
No matter how fast you or I write, we could never satisfy the readers alone. But together, with all the other indie writers, we can create enough to take the ebook world by storm!
I’m noticing that most of my eBook purchases are Indy, with the remainder (10-15% maybe) from Baen. And, a major chunk of the Indy comes from authors involved in blogs like this or at MGC. Like various mountains around here, I think there’s a weathermaker in the vicinity.
And you have stormed- for this reader💧. You all (Alma, Celia, Dorothy, and the other writers in the Troublemakers and Mad Genius Club) now comprise about 85% of my book purchases. The remaining are authors I’ve been reading for a long time, plus a few new ones I met at Liberty Con.
Never forget that the reverse is also true. Where there were once regular rains, but the powers what be diverted the rivers from the mighty inland sea, which dried up, resulting in endless drought. This was later termed “bad luck” or “a shift in the market”.
Yeah, we need the rain too… both in the literal and metaphorical senses… And it IS one ‘drop’ at a time.