Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Is It Time For My Swan Song?

I’ve kind of been in the mud the last few months, maybe longer, but reading the latest posts by my brilliant blog-mates told me that I wasn’t alone. It’s been a difficult time for so many. Wars, gun violence, the murder of children, homelessness, and political discord have filled the news and social media. We’d have to have a hard heart not to let it bother us. Most of us would say we are lucky to be in the situations we’re in and be grateful for that, but we grieve for those who aren’t. 

For me, the respite has been visiting my grandkids, who are free from all the angst of the world’s problems, as children usually are. It’s a change of pace watching Booba on TV instead of news, though we’re careful not to let our anxieties rub off on the children. Kids growing up in today’s environment of conflict and hate-mongering must absorb some of it no matter how careful the adults try to keep their young minds on youthful projects.

I grew up in a different time. Simpler, with a more united populace. We played outside without the fear of being abducted. We went to school without the threat of a disturbed teenager shooting up the room, though we did have the fear thrust upon us that we’d be annihilated in a nuclear attack. 

I lived in a neighborhood of ghettos, but they were only a couple of blocks, and we all went to school together. One block was Italian, another Greek, another Black, and mine was mostly Jewish. High school brought the Polish and German kids from the other side of town. Some had immigrated here from their countries, so foreignness was part of my life, and I didn’t think much of it. In fact, I embraced it, making friends with the Greek sisters who were put into my fifth-grade class because the teacher was Greek and spoke Greek. Those girls learned English long before they taught me Greek, but I can still remember how to count in Greek and speak a few more words they taught me all those decades ago. One sister went on to become a doctor. Our schools were integrated, so I never thought about the fact that they weren’t in other parts of the country. We didn’t have 24/7/365 news pounding us with bulletins, bad or good, relying on the local newspaper for our information and the fifteen minute TV newscast at six o’clock. It was a different time. Very different.

The world is touch-sensitive to writers. What happens affects what transfers from our brains onto the computer keyboard, even if the reports come from the other side of the world. We are sponges, but that sometimes works to our detriment.

It has affected me. I’ve been distracted enough that my output is minimal, and now, after fourteen books and one in progress, I have to decide whether I want to continue to write stories few read. Now with KDP's new dashboard, I can see when I make a few pennies a day, or no pennies at all. It’s ego-shattering. I’ve long given up the thought that some production company will want to make a TV series about my psychic character, Diana Racine. Isn’t that what every writer dreams about? I’m thrilled for my friends that experience that success in their careers. Looking back, I’ve won no awards, and no contests, though I’ve entered quite a few. I’ve concluded that I don’t write the kind of books that win awards and contests, but I’ve written the books I’ve wanted to write.

I have no regrets that I’ve wasted my time the last twenty-two years. Writing is my fourth career, and I’ve tackled subjects that were important to me that ranged from an unfair justice system to living as a handicapped person to genetics to corrupt cops to abused children to a famous art heist, and to domestic violence. I’ve learned a lot and loved every minute of my journey. I’ve met interesting people who’ve expanded my horizons and with whom I will remain friends. Many I’ve met and many I look forward to meeting some day.

I intend to finish the fifth book in my series because I’m at 73K words, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, excuse the cliché. I might even finish a few others that are well along. I’ve thrilled at those years I did well and earned my keep, but there does come a time. Will Diana 5 (no title yet) be my swan song? Or will that idea I had for a new series reinspire me as so many ideas have in the past? Only time will tell.

 

Polly Iyer is the author of ten novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, Indiscretion, and her newest, we are but WARRIORS. Also, four books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, Backlash and The Scent of Murder. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

37 comments :

  1. I, for one, hope it is not your swan song, but I identify with the feeling. Your ideas, your passion for justice, are needed in today's world.

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    1. As writers, we have only our books to make our statements. We don't have a major platform, but it's hard to carry the passion on unless people read our books. Thanks for posting.

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  2. My instinct is to say, "Oh, don't quit writing. i need the comfort of other writers like me who don't break even but are proud of the books we write. But in the long run, I hope whatever choice you make is the one that feels good to you. And I hope our world won't always be so bleak. Meantime, we need art in all its forms.

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    1. Thanks, Judy. You've been writing longer than I have, and have made your mark in multiple genres. I admire you and your perseverance. Not sure I can fully quit. I might have to clean my house if I do. :-)

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  3. I've been struggling with this same issue for some time. I'll be 75 this year, While I've made just over $10k since I started in 2012, I've more than double that on writing. Yup, a loss on taxes every year. I used to do 2-3 books a year. Now I'm lucky to get 1 every two years. I only do it for may faithful reader friends but this may be my last year. Time to sit back & relax I think...

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    1. I could have written your response, though I turned 80 this year. Not sure how that happened. I will get this book out before the end of the year. I'm giving myself plenty of time. Thanks for your input. It's obviously mine as well.

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  4. Hi Polly - I'm so in the same boat. My books aren't making me a lot of money, certainly not in any way that compensates adequately for the amount of time put into creating them. I already suspend writing when I'm with the grandkids - they'll always come first! But I frequently think about giving up writing and spending more time in the garden or just reading. But then I'll have an idea that just churns in my head and characters start banging on my skull to be let out and I just can't resist getting to the keyboard again.
    Lest you get too discouraged, though, I have read several of your books and thoroughly enjoyed them!

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    1. Thank you. That means a lot. So many of us are in that boat that if it were real, it would surely sink. My pleasure is cooking, a little gardening, reading, and of course, the grands. But every morning I'm drawn to the computer, thinking I'll get some writing done, and every morning I don't do enough of it. Onward for both of us!

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  5. For some reason, the above posted as anonymous, but that was me in the same boat.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I appreciate your response.

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  6. Hugs, Polly, and follow your heart as you do in each of your books. Take a break if you must. You'll be back when something tickles your writer's fancy.

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    1. Thanks, Kait. I'm not out of it yet, but I'm struggling. I do have an idea though. Haha.

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  7. You have given many readers the gift of happy reading hours. That is no small accomplishment. Fame isn't what it's cracked up to be.

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    1. I hope so, Diana, but it sure would be fun to see how miserable I'd be with a little fame. Ha!

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  8. You were the first person who walked up to me at SinC and encouraged me to write, to keep exploring the story that was, at the time, still emerging. Let me return the favor. After reading your work, I have to say, your voice remains strong. It's fair for all of us to take a step back after the last few years and I hope with all my heart you're there to be the voice of creativity, entertainment, and inspiration in the future. You're a natural. But, we're not talking about what you have to offer, here. I hope you take a much deserved break from reality and find that spark that fuels doing what you love. We're all right there with you.

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    1. Thank you, Anonymous. It is natural for creative people to question their worth. I'm a big believer in Nike's tag line, Just Do It! If you don't, you'll never know. I hope you followed through with my advice.

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  9. Here's my prediction: that your writing subject(s) might change in the future. Can a writer actually quit writing? I don't think so.

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    1. Funny you should mention that. I do have an idea, at least for a standalone, which is my favorite book to write. I admire your versatility. You take chances in trying different genres and by doing so, succeed in stretching your talent. I'm jealous.

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    2. Aha! I knew it! Can't wait! (I would probably have a better writing career if I stuck to the same thing. Just sayin')

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    3. It's not even a thriller/suspense/mystery.

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  10. Your blog and many of the responses echo what goes through my mind these days. The larger question was asked, and answered, can a writer ever quit writing? I doubt it. Thank you for posting. Best wishes, Polly.

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    1. You're probably right. I'm sure I'll dabble, but after this one, will I ever finish another book? I've questioned whether I could finish this one, but 74K words are too much to let slide. Thanks for posting, Anon.

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  11. Sorry to hear you've gotten discouraged, Polly. I'm in the same boat, though it sounds like you've got inspiration to keep writing, so best of luck to you.

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    1. Sorry to hear you're in my boat. My only inspiration is 74K words that need an ending. It doesn't help that today's take on KDP is a massive $.12. That's twelve cents. Sigh.

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  12. Hang in there! I got 30 cents last month!

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    1. I wish Amazon would promote their self-published authors a fraction of the amount they publish their imprint authors. It would be easy for them to do and would help those of us who’ve made money for them over the years. Questionable amounts, I realize, but still.

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  13. Anonymous was me. I meant to say, I wish Amazon would promote their self-published authors a fraction of the amount they PROMOTE their imprint authors.

    I hate typing on my phone, but I was sitting outside. Grr.$.30. Good thing you have your publishers that aren't Amazon.

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  14. In a word, "No, definitely not!" OK, three words, in response to 'should this be my swan song.' One may ask how I come by my certainty, as I do not know you or your work. Two reasons. First, I could not have worded your dilemma any better if it were MY dilemma---but wait! It IS my dilemma. Perfectly said--all the same reasons, all the same or similar circumstances, al the billowing, fuzzy mind cloudiness that I call ennui, one day, exhaustion, the next, slacker the next, burned out, the next, losing proposition (income wise), the next, etc. So once I established we have the same or very similar problem, I decided to do a little research. I looked at your website. I came across some of your photos from past events--I saw one with Hank Phillippi Ryan, who I don't know but interact with on FBook; then I saw a photo of Danna Dennis Wilberg, one of my critique partners and whose recent book I helped edit and did the formatting for (a side gig I do when writing escapes me, which is often the past 28 months!); AND THEN, I read the first chapter on your website of We Are But Warriors, and I liked it a lot, AND THEN, I saw another of my friends and critique partners, Michele Drier had written a review or promo blurb for that book, AND THEN, I bought your book! About a week ago, I was so dejected about my own writing (55K done on a WIP and ideas coming out my ears for other books), I told the Guppies to stop sending me their Digest. Lucky for me, they ignored my request, which is how I read your blog; so...maybe I never hit Send? Dunno. But I do know this: You are a captivating writer in a crazy world distorted by plague, violence, lack of civility and a new definition of truth that says I can call the sky green and the trees blue. WHO WOULDN'T BE DEJECTED?!?!? LOL...so, you know, Polly, I don't know what's right for you—hell, I rarely know what's right for me, but if the opinion of a 77-year old weary author traveller means anything, keep going. After reading your blog piece and seeing your website and reading that first chapter of Warriors, I decided, today, to write about two women on the desperate prairie facing seemingly insurmountable odds...etc etc.,sometime around 1910, because...I have no idea why! But I know it's YOUR fault! LOL. But first, I'll finish the WIP, a New Adult thing with two timelines, the present and WWII. It's called The Kensington Cat—I have no idea why I started it, my usual genre is Sapphic Historical Romance, but it'll be out someday! LOL. I self publish and do all my own and others formatting, so between my freelance jobs and my procrastination as an author (for most of the reasons you mentioned), I decided to just stay (keyword) moderately busy until this passes. AND...this too shall pass—this being the state we're all in. I look forward to reading your Warriors book, and I genuinely hope you continue to write. There is no earthly reason why you (or most of us) should, but when have real writers EVER needed an earthly reason?!? But it's a small world, isn't it? My seeing that Guppie digest post about your blog piece got my day going. You just NEVER KNOW who your words will touch, who will resonate with your sentiments, who identifies with your 'swan song' dilemma. I have one last thing to say: Onward, Polly! (ok, ok, two words).

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    1. First, thank you for your response. If anything has helped me in writing this blog, it's to know that others are in the same boat. That doesn't make me feel better for them, because misery loving company is a selfish point of view, but it is a kind of acceptance that writing is an ever-evolving effort, with plenty of ups and downs, successes and disappointments. I refuse to say failures because they aren't. They're just bumps in the road.
      Second, I accept blame for whatever I said to inspire you. I shall try to find the inspiration for myself somehow.
      Third, though I've only met Danna once and wish we'd had longer to get to know one another better, I know Michelle quite well. It was my pleasure to be her roommate at the only Malice Conference I attended. I am pleased to call her my friend.
      And last, thanks for buying We Are But WARRIORS. I hope you enjoy it.

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  15. Hang in there, Polly! I love your books and look forward to more. The future is bleak enough; we need those bright spots.

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  16. At almost 4 years your senior, I know where you're coming from, Polly. I'm tired. I hurt. Cold weather chills me to the bone. Hot weather makes me feel sick. And the list could go on and on.
    At almost 4 years your senior, I view life through different eyes than did my younger self. Throughout my lifetime, history has consistently repeated itself, and not to anyone's benefit (except, perhaps, the few perpetrators of that repetition). Discouragement waits at the door every time I open it, but I choose not to let it in for an extended stay. Some days it begs to become my roommate, but so far I've denied it.
    The problem with being writers is our ability to feel the pain of others, to cry for the abused and murdered children we do not know, to want to change the world one word at a time—but being totally unable to accomplish that mountainous feat. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren are blessings that remind us of our youth, and in the young ones' naïveté, they inspire hope in us. Is that a foolish hope? Not really. I believe that one day, it will be a reality for those who truly want it and are willing to do what it takes to acquire it.
    In the meantime, I write. Why? My words would not be nearly as eloquent as those of Emily Dickinson, so I quote her here:
    If I can stop one heart from breaking,
    I shall not live in vain;
    If I can ease one life the aching,
    Or cool one pain,
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again,
    I shall not live in vain.
    Our stories have the ability to do these things for our readers. This is what keeps me writing.
    You, my dear writing sister, possess a wonderful gift of words. If you choose to retire it, that is okay because it is yours. If you choose to continue sharing it in a limited way that is okay, too, because it is yours. Whatever you choose, just be sure it is the right choice for you.

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    1. Linda, your posts are always so beautifully written. I love your advice and love the Dickinson poem. You mention seeing life differently than you did when you were younger. I see life differently, but I still think pretty much the same if a bit more cynically. You mention the writer's sensitivity. This last massacre has had me in tears. I've stopped watching news completely. I didn't want to hear the details and see the grief. It doesn't change that I know it happened, but not hearing about it, especially about the incompetence that allowed it to continue, saves me from dissolving into tears. I feel better not knowing the gory details. I hope we never see this kind of heinous act again. Not in our lifetimes.

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    2. All the sadness is not just overwhelming, it's crushing. In times like these, we realize how much we really need one another. Sending hugs.

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  17. Well, who to respond to first? Kaye who made 30 cents? Judy Alter who talks about a swan song but always pulls another story, another book out? Or those legions of us who don't seem to know any better and just keep writing?. Like you, Polly, I'm giving up the fantasy call from Hollywood (or Netflix) and just finished my 17th book, eleventh in the Kandesky vampire Chronicles and started on the next, third in the Stained Glass Mysteries.
    You're a great story-teller and wonderful writer, as well as a dear friend...and I'm pulling for you!
    Michele Drier

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    1. You're amazing, and unstoppable, Michele. Tapestry of Tears is on my TBR list, but even reading has been difficult. I think the hiatus everyone mentions is what I need. But first, Diana 5. Thanks for being my friend.

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  18. Polly, not much original I can say after all of these terrific comments, but I'm a fan and how you keep writing. It helps the mind stay active and, for me at least, making sure my villains and hypocrits are punished releases some of the toxins that would otherwise fester in my mind. Keep at it!

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    1. Yes, Linda, there is that, especially for those of us who want to shine a light on the villains around us. Giving them their just desserts in a story is definitely rewarding and using real-life people as subject matter frees us in a way that we can't do in real life.

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