Many of you might have heard about the abrupt closing of All Romance eBooks, announced just this past week. Plenty of authors have had a lot to say about the stunning development. The fallout will be felt for some time. Hearts are broken, authors and readers alike are angry, and many are hurting both emotionally and financially from what’s happened.
This is not a post about being wronged. I’m not going to rail against this specific situation. This is to tell you where I will be in relation to this, the latest painful situation to be visited on authors. You see, I’ve heard that some authors have had enough. They feel that writing has become too much of a minefield. They’re tired of getting their hopes and hard work blown away…not to mention their financial well-being.
I understand. It’s frustrating – no, it’s heartbreaking – to spend months or years pouring your soul into a story (or many stories) only to be met with books being banned by large don’t-give-a-fuck corporations. To have publishers screwing you out of rights and/or money. To be faced with book sellers who up and tell you they aren’t going to pay the royalties you earned. These are the worst of a thousand irritants that dog an author. So when we yet again suffer a major setback, there will be those who can’t invest another word, another page, or another teardrop into the effort.
I get it. I respect it. I wish those who have had it with this business all the very best on their future endeavors. I thank them with all of my heart for hanging in as long as they did. Only they could create their unique and lovely worlds for the rest of us to visit.
As for me, I’ll continue to plug along. I have to. Writing is my therapy. See, I don’t much like the real world. It’s always been a fearsome place to me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have seen plenty of good in it. I’ve known people who are heroes. I have a husband who loves me in spite of all the crazy I throw his way. I have a son who is the center of my universe. I have plenty of terrific things to be thankful for.
But some of us are built to register the bad on an epic scale. Where some people can shrug off natural disasters, armed conflicts, and general selfish ignorance perpetrated against others, I feel it on a personal level. I always have. Therefore, the world does not seem to be a kind or caring place to me.
My refuge has always been the written word. I started as a reader. In a childhood full of personal upheaval, I retreated into books that took me away from the scary events of my life. I hid in them. Hell, I lived in them. I found sanctuary with heroes and heroines who were as much friends and parents and protectors as the real things. I could count on them to be there for me when things turned dark. While the world went to hell outside, I huddled over and over again within well-worn pages.
As I got older, my fortress of books grew to include my own writings. Now I had the keys to heaven itself. No longer did I have to depend on someone else to find the right words to transport me away. I built my own exit from a world that held more monsters and mayhem and evil than my battered copies centered in Pern, Middle Earth, Dune, and Narnia combined.
I could be the master of my own escape. The older I got, the wider the Pandora’s Box of the real world opened. So I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. Writing was that ray of hope that mitigated the hurts. I could take the misfortune I saw around me and prevail against it in the pages I created. Writing reminded me that there was good all around, that courage and strength could win out.
I was around long before the technology-infused world we live in today. When I started writing, self-publishing was not considered a viable option. Certainly, it didn’t allow access to many sales venues as it does today. I tried to get published for almost twenty-five years with no luck. With each rejection, my heart broke. I felt physically wounded that I couldn’t share my worlds with whatever audience might be out there for me. I even reached a point where I said, “This is the last book I’m going to try to get published. I won’t bother after that.”
But at no time did I plan to stop writing. I couldn’t. I knew that I would never stop building my fortress against the ugliness I perceived. Book-block by book-block, the walls would continue to be erected, the defenses strengthened.
It remains so to this day. I felt the betrayal this past week of yet another entity turning on us authors for its own gain. I was angry and hurt like all the rest. I clutched at my wounds and nursed another round of despair for the way writers keep getting shit on by the publishing world.
I also wrote more than usual, forging yet another block to hold the tyrant legions at bay. They could take the money my work had earned and they had agreed to pay me. They could have gotten the opportunity to take the rights to my books had I signed with them (I did not and dodged that arrow). They could take my trust in what I thought was a solid, respectable company and stomp it into pieces.
But they couldn’t take away my ability to write. I proved it day after day following ARe’s announcement. I escaped their assault by running off to Kalquor and other beloved places. I even found the ability to laugh, giving them the middle-finger salute as I wandered friendlier lands and lived with my character friends. I laughed at the attacking forces, sneered in their faces by writing, and they could not stop me.
Bilbo's got my back on this.
Though fortune may turn against me, though some day the bottom might drop out and I’m no longer allowed to pursue writing as my sole career, I will always write. I can’t not write. It saves my soul every day. So rest assured, though I might have to slow down to meet other obligations should things go south, I’ll still be building my fortress of words, one block at a time. I’m not going anywhere.
I'll see you all in the new year!