I'm on retreat. Not with a group, and not as part of an organized event. I'm calling it a "self-directed" retreat. I spent some time preparing, gathering materials, including inspirational books, pads, notebooks, my favorite pens in multiple colors, candles, tarot cards, food, pillows, etc. I don't need to go anywhere except for walks to move my body and clear my mind. I chose a spot near the beach in the off-season, so there would be few people, no noise, lots of peace. I eschewed Wi-Fi and told everyone I know that I was going to be unavailable. I decided to practice Julia Cameron's week of reading deprivation in order to open the channel to my creativity and allow the Muse to enter and breathe her inspiration into my essence. I wanted to be sure to honor the gift of time alone and away that my family had given me, particularly my husband, who becomes a single parent to two teenaged boys in my absence, no easy task.
It's been two days, out of a planned week. And I've learned some things. There were several objectives associated with this undertaking. A primary objective was to outline the book I want to write. The original plan was to turn my blog--this very one you are reading--into a book. I thought I was being so clever (I often do, and I'm often wrong, which would make you think that I would stop thinking I'm all that, but not so much). In any event, my original thinking was to marry my passion for smut with my penchant for proselytizing and write a blog and then a book that had a ready-made audience of people who read paranormal and urban fantasy. I carefully plotted my strategy of promoting myself through FaceBook and Twitter and presenting my work to authors who would reward my penetrating insights with recommendations to their readers to run, not walk to read my pearls of wisdom. And thus my audience would be built, and when I took my soon-to-be-written book to prospective publishers, they would jump at the chance to exploit the extensive readership I'd already created and I'd have a bidding war for who would give me the biggest advance.
As you have probably guessed by this point, things have not really gone according to plan. With several notable, wonderful exceptions, who are worth mentioning, paranormal and urban fantasy authors have not rushed to help me to promote my work and expand my audience. These exceptions are authors I've mentioned before, and they include Rose Montague, Lilo Abernathy, Elle Boca and Madhuri Blaylock. These independent authors have gone way above and beyond to extend the hand of support and friendship by telling their readers about me and asking them to check out my work, like and tweet my blog posts, even when the posts are not about their work. They take the time to write comments and engage with me. And I am beyond appreciative.
But despite the best efforts of these amazing writers and my indefatigable assistant, Jamie, it's not really working, and hence one of the reasons for the retreat. A retreat can be a time to run from something, or to something. It can be a time to take stock, lick wounds, regroup, and gather forces for another attempt. A retreat can be strategic or tactical, methodical or more like a rout. A retreat can be temporary or final.
I'm not entirely sure yet what the nature of this retreat will end up being, or the outcomes. I do know that it would appear that my original plan was flawed and that only I and a small handful of others are interested in thinking and discussing deep thoughts we've had while reading vampire porn. Apparently, most of those who read these books just want to be entertained. Which is perfectly fine and totally valid. I want to be entertained as well. But my idea of fun includes navel gazing and philosophical discourse. At least sometimes. And I seem to be in the minority among the folks who ready fantasy.
And at this point it's not clear that there is enough of an audience for such musings so as to make this a viable subject for a book-length effort. This is not to say that I'm planning to stop writing Truth in Fantasy. I'm not. I enjoy it. But perhaps it is better as a blog rather than a book. Perhaps the book that is struggling to be born of my thoughts and feelings is related but not explicitly. I'm not sure yet, but I'll keep you posted.
In the interim, I'd like to express my sincere gratitude to those of you who do read these posts and who recommend them to your friends. And a special thank you, again, to Elle, Madhuri, Lilo and Rose. You ladies are the Shit, as Dani O'Malley would say.