A. L. Buehrer What I Write and Why

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing: a mini memoir




If you want to be a doctor, you go to medical school and they tell you what to do for about seven years. You get your degree and you train, and you don’t really have to go figuring out how to remove tonsils just by going in there and snipping random stuff.

If you want to be a teacher, you get your degree, you student-teach, you learn from people who are doing it right in front of you. They don’t just drop you into a dusty arena full of middle-schoolers and leave you. (Though it probably feels like that, at first.)

But when you say. “I wanna be a paperback writer! Paperback writeeeerr!” People are like, “Good luck with that.”

Thanks for all the luck, guys. It’s been very useful.

If you’ve read Dronefall, then you know that in the back it says book two, Lightwaste is coming in summer of 2018. That’s not a spoiler. It’s technically more like a lie. Obviously, here we are in the third week of March, 2019, and do we have Lightwaste? No. Why?

I Have No Idea™

From now on, I’m going to note in my captain’s log every time I hit an obstacle in my journey from finishing a book to publishing it. It would make quite a chronicle for Lightwaste. Since summer of ’18, I’ve been telling myself, “yeah, probably next week,” almost every week. I don’t think I could even classify the feeling as suspense anymore. Hitchcock would have thrown the book of my life across the room by now. This has gone on about seven months too long.

I’ve read a pile of books on writing and I tend to browse multiple blogposts on the craft through the week. I’ve finished eleven novel manuscripts and made four available to the reading public. But I’m still groping in the dark when it comes to the nitty-gritty digital world of publishing. I really don’t know what I’m doing.

But I’ve made up my mind to let it bother me as little as possible. I don’t want to get too wrapped up in the chaos of the last seven months and the very possibly extensive chain of roadblocks still ahead. Sometimes I’m smart enough to see work as a game. Part of the game is hacking through Mirkwood with frankly nothing to guide you and assure you that you’re even on the right track. I pick up new skills all the time—things I never would have set out to learn, because I never saw them coming. In doing this I repeatedly surprise myself by doing things I thought were beyond me with my total lack of training.

So, even though I don’t deny that having no idea what I’m doing is potentially extremely frustrating (particularly when it gets in the way of my production of art) I think I’m actually doing pretty well, considering. In fact, right before I published this post, I ordered my second page proof of Lightwaste. Maybe I really will publish the book by the end of the month. Who knows?

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