My Road Goes Ever On
Book Dreams keep me moving forward despite the treacherous landscape life sometimes lays before my feet. To wallow in “what is not” or “what might have been” is to slip into self-pity, which rarely does anyone any good.
The end of 2023 challenged the status quo in my established writing habits. Two major factors forced me to rethink how I managed my writing career up to this point. First was the overall lack of sales, which reflected a lack of “reach” or making the necessary connections to my kind of readers. The second was a Facebook fiasco when my personal page was hacked and suspended by Meta. A loss of thousands of connections seemed to portend a tragic downturn in sales, but to my surprise, sales for the month increased.
Taking a hard look at my historical approach to media, I had to admit that the advice to “get on social media” did not pan out as planned. Social media channels reflect an overwhelming and turbulent current that opposes the kind of trust and personal relationship needed to gain authentic readership. In addition, paid services almost always cost me more money than they returned. Furthermore, professional marketers tried hard but were only as good as their connections—which usually were not specifically targeted to my audience. General “good ideas” can become expensive rabbit holes that lead nowhere in particular.
I’ve been reading biographies of famous authors for years, and my focused interest of late has lay with Beatrix Potter, who wrote and illustrated children’s stories, Robert E. Howard, who wrote Sword and Sorcery/Weird Fiction, and Harper Lee who wrote one outstanding book, yet each were highly influential writers who touched humanity in unprecedented ways. The writers I’ve read about this year lived unique lives, and none of them had it easy. Even early fame has its drawbacks.
What struck me most powerfully about their experiences was the sympathetic connection between the specific writer and his or her readers. Well beyond geographic or nationalistic identities, religious preferences, and economic or social standing, each author transcended their place and time and managed to connect to the unquantifiable, sometimes mislabeled, parts of the human experience—body, mind & soul.
Though these authors’ personal choices sometimes horrified me—as in Howard’s decision to kill himself—their struggle to understand the world and his or her quest to partake in the human conversation, to add their voice to the human chorus, speaks to the deep seated human need for authentic connection as individuals in the greater wholeness of our human race.
Though writing is not necessarily referred to as a spiritual experience, creating art in any form is, in my mind, akin to dreaming, praying, meditating, and reaching beyond self toward the greater human journey and supernatural realities, which no one this side of the grave can fully define or explain.
So a new year begins, but eternity continues as it always has—reaching out and reaching within. I must do the same.
This year I am allowing myself dedicated prayer time, a slower unhurried pace to ponder whatever life brings my way—be it a frolicsome squirrel, a flat tire, or a new GED student. I am also reaching out to newspapers and magazines—introducing myself and my work, querying literary journals with stories and reflections they might find acceptable, querying literary agents, and following wherever the characters in my newest novel might lead.
So far, I’ve received abundant silence, four rejections, two generous interviews, and one “let-me-take-a-closer-look-and-get-back-to-you” email.
Only the good God knows what this new year, 2024, will bring. But I’ll keep dreaming…
A. K. Frailey is the author of 18 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
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