As 2018 winds to a close, I look back at the year-that-was and wonder, yet again, where all the time went.
Was it misspent?
(Sorry, 80s hair-band joke there)
(Yet another 80s song reference)
It was all of those, and then some.
2018 marked my independent publishing of BLOODLINES, a culmination of two-and-a-half years of blood, sweat and tears. I unveiled the e-book first, then moved to KDP, and took the unsuspecting reading world by storm…ok…not by storm, but I sold a fair number of books.
That’s not right either.
I sold a tremendous amount of books.
Through family, friends and business contacts, the outpouring of support has been unbelievable. I honestly expected no more than 30 people would buy and read it.
(Just ask my wife)
The actual number is more than five times that.
And the Amazon reviews?
Even the dreaded Kirkus Review was glowing with praise.
Now, most who read this blog don’t know me from Adam, or Bob, or Mary, or Margaret, or Bob.
(Bob needs to be repeated because the name is so easy to remember. Besides, what do you call a guy with no arms, no legs, who floats in the middle of the ocean? Yep, you guessed it. Easy.)
Truth be told, you don’t need to know me.
Because I’m a writer.
And, by definition, that means I’m an egoist (not egotist).
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not referring to conceit, arrogance or the Venn Diagram that shows I’m at the center of the universe.
Because I’m not at the center of the universe.
I’m at the center of MY universe.
Writing is a solitary, lonely task. It’s also a huge ego boost. Positive reviews balloon that bloated sense of self ten-fold. Negative reviews cause shrinkage in the truest Seinfeldian sense. Writers live and die by everyone else’s perception of their work. I might think my writing is the cat’s meow, but to others, my words are cheap cat litter.
I’ve blogged about it before. I seem to blog about it nearly every time I blog. Which makes for boring blogs, I guess. But this Unpublished Blog is about my stream of consciousness thoughts.
Again, MY universe.
And you’re along for my ride.
Each time someone buys one of my books, I get an electric thrill, firing up my synapses filling me with a charge that maybe, just maybe, this reader will be the one to recommend the book to hundreds of their friends, colleagues, co-workers, the barista at the nearest Starbucks, the dude working at the pizza place, the mail carrier, the priest, pastor, rabbi or porn star. It’s all about the ratings, baby!
Oh, I recognize it’s a fantasy, because, of course, that’s not how the real world works.
(But hope springs eternal)
So when I look back at 2018, I don’t see the culmination of two-and-a-half years of writing and editing.
No, I see the now. I see the ratings. I see the sales.
And…I’m an idiot.
Because the ratings, the sales, the kind words on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the emails, the phone calls, the shout-outs at the grocery store, all of them pad an ego that shouldn’t need it, although it does.
I wish I were bigger than that, but I’m not.
I recognize the futility of trying to be something that I’m not. I’m only human. I want to be accepted. I want the book to be on the bookshelves at Barnes & Noble. I want to be invited to a podcast on the hot writers of 2019. I want reviewers and bloggers to hunt my novel down, devour it, then heap praise and accolades upon it.
I want what every other writer wants.
Which is why I sometimes lost sight of the most important memories from 2018.
Here’s a few of them:
My eldest son played two seasons of baseball, got a bunch of hits, learned how to be better at the game, hustled his butt off around the bases, received several game balls, and was lauded as the consummate team player. Not only that, but he watched Game 7 of the World Series in its entirety, by himself, because I wasn’t home to watch it with him.
Because my eldest gets his daddy’s love of sports, and has developed the love on his own.
As for my youngest, he signed up for the elementary school performance of Mary Poppins, and he’s LOVING it. Prior to that, he performed live at a little kid theater near our house, and he was AMAZE-balls. My youngest has natural talent, loves singing and dancing, and if he ever harnesses his powers for good and not evil, he will be a force to be reckoned with when he’s older.
Then there were other adventures and milestones.
Our first Atlanta Braves baseball game as a family.
A fun train ride through the North Georgia Mountains.
Both boys’ first full month at overnight camp.
My eldest’s 10th birthday was spent with my brother and dad up in Boston where we watched a Celtics game, got to step out on the parquet floor (fans of the Celtics will appreciate that), enjoyed temperatures in the single digits, visited the Boston Museum of Science, and my eldest had some Papa Gino’s pizza, as well as ice cream at Friendly’s.
(If you’ve never had Papa Gino’s or Friendly’s, well, I don’t know what to tell you except you’ve missed out)
And we also took him to the greatest restaurant in the known universe: Harry’s Diner.
Our annual family trip was cut short due to illness (colds, pink eye and swimmers ear), so we took a second trip (couldn’t afford it, but we’re dumb like that and did it anyway) to Universal Studios and experienced the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Word of advice – go there, visit Olivander’s and be a part of the wand choosing.
My boys grew taller, became a little more sophisticated as they figured themselves out, and have transformed into individuals. They aren’t baby blobs anymore. They’ve got ideas, intelligence, humor, opinions and independence.
The pride I feel for them transcends words.
Which is what my 2018 year-in-review is really all about.
Oh, sure, I published a novel.
Sold a bunch of copies too.
Also got 30+ rejections from literary agents.
My boys are my world. They might annoy the living shit out of me more days than most, but they are also bright, caring, wonderful souls who will light up any room they’re in, and bring the house down.
Yes, I’m a writer.
And an egoist.
Especially when it comes to my boys.
Because that’s how I roll.
May your 2019 be full of energy, happiness, enlightenment and health, and may your light never dim.