I suspect that most people, if they think of writers and writing at all, have a vague mental image of Henry David Thoreau sitting with a quill pen at a quaint antique writing desk in an idyllic cabin, pausing every few seconds to look out over the calm waters of Walden Pond, in which are mirrored glorious red-and-gold images of autumn trees. If they take the image a bit farther, they might picture him walking down a dirt country lane in a gentle shower of falling leaves to a village post office to mail a manuscript off to his eagerly awaiting publisher, who then rushes it to print and sends it out to the world which falls all over itself in the rush to buy it.
Well, a 9th-floor apartment in Chicago overlooking the el tracks ain't exactly Walden Pond, and I'm not quite in the same league as Henry David Thoreau. I'm one of thousands of far-less-than-famous writers who must spend an inordinate part of every day scrambling to find readers for their books while trying to find enough time to write them.
Who has not, at some point, casually said, "Oh, I'm going to write a book one of these days." I always encourage them to do it. Chances are they'll find that talking about writing a book and actually sitting down and writing it are slightly different matters, and not nearly as easy as they might have thought.
Still, there are far, far more books written than there are books published, and those that are published face incredible competition. For every Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown or John Gresham, there are hundreds of Dorien Greys struggling to get noticed and be read.
If you've been following my blogs, you know I have a rather strong ego (justified or not is another matter), and it truly pains me to pick up a book by some writer who received a $50,000 advance and find that it is not one whit better written or better plotted or have more interesting characters than my own. Why him? Why not me?
We live, as you may have noticed, in a bottom-line world. The publishing business is no exception. As in every business, there are those who dominate the industry. The huge flagship houses have the reputation and the clout to expend huge amounts of time, effort, and money to promote their product/authors. They dominate the bookstores. They are the humpback whales of the publishing sea. The smaller, lesser-known houses, which range in size from sharks to minnows, cannot possibly compete. But they try.
And the writer does the best he can with whatever promotional tools are available to him. (I know...it should be "he/she" and "him/her", but I'm sick to death of this "politically correct" bullshit. Sue me.) I personally use blogs in the hope that by reading them, you might get to know and perhaps like me, which just might convince you to check out my books (the first chapter of every book is on my website, www.doriengrey.com, for your convenience), which in turn might lead you to read one or more.
Whenever people say "I'm not doing it for the money," chances are that's exactly what they're doing it for. I'd love to do it for the money. But no matter how many books I write, I'll never be rich. I think I read somewhere that less than 2 percent of all writers actually make a living at it.
I write because, as I've said so often, I cannot not write. I write to preserve as much of the essence of me as I can before I am no longer here. I write to take you away, for a little while, from the problems of everyday life, by telling you stories I hope you'll enjoy and introducing you to characters I hope you will consider as real people and as friends. I write for validation; if you like what I write, it means I have some worth in your eyes if not, often, in my own.