My little hobgoblin, and the hobgoblins of my little mind

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m writing this one from deep within the murky-water-filled, sleep-deprived, hobgoblin-infested trenches of motherhood.

You have been warned.

 #LiveTheQuest – 10:
How will you “publish” your project? #publish
Look back on your #burningquestion and #oneproject. How are you or could you get this project “out” into the hands and hearts of the people who ache for it? How will you publish it?

This is the part where I admit to being a sometimes careless reader. I’ve been stumped by this question for a week now. It has sent me down long and angsty thought-roads, brooding about the Big 5 publishers versus indie presses versus self-publishing. I toy off and on with the idea of just putting a novel out into the world via this blog, in Dickensian installments.

I even had a little, exhausted cry over it all this evening. The problem with my crying jags is that they tend to start selfishly (what’s wrong with me?? have I failed at LIFE??) and then morph into really impressively existential sob-fests (I am unhappy! Other people are unhappy!! Factory-farmed chickens are unhappy!! The world is a dark and dreadful place!! I want to save ALL THE CREATURES and yet I cannot and people are starving and other people don’t care and I can’t even cry pretty!!)

In a desperation with which my Sainted Husband has become intimately familiar, I lugged my laptop to him and read him the above prompt.

Me: I don’t know what to do with this!! [reads prompt]

S.H.: I really can’t help you with this one.

Me: Oh, wait. I don’t think I read the question right the first time.

Because my #burningquestion was about taking control of my own story, and my #oneproject related to that was about figuring out how to live my life one best day at a time, and ultimately these are very personal things and not really medicine for anybody else. I’ve blogged about them, mostly as a matter of personal accountability, but they’re not really things that I think about publishing per se.

But my misreading of the #publishing prompt has gotten me thinking. A lot. I don’t have any answers, either. Just questions about publishing, both in the strictly traditional sense of putting my fiction out into the world, and in the sense of putting myself out there along with whatever it is exactly that I have to offer.

I think that may be my hangup–I’m not entirely sure I know what it is that I do offer. I feel like a chrysalis, or like a duck’s feet, apparently motionless from the outside but going like mad beneath the surface. I’m becoming, and as I am a chronically late bloomer, this becoming business is slooooow stuff.

Also it does not help that I am typing this at 11 p.m. at the foot of my eight-year-old insomniac’s bed while he coughs and sneezes and moans because seriously, people, this kid is dying of the common cold right now and nothing in his world will ever be good and beautiful again because VIRUSES.

But anyway, questions about publishing.

1) How should I publish my fiction? I feel strongly about pursuing traditional publishing, but I know that the industry is changing and there are multiple options, and I’m the kind of person who second guesses herself about every second second. I veer wildly from wanting to publish traditionally to flirting with the idea of just putting a bunch of stories on my blog. I think about indie presses. I think about self-publishing, though to me this is the least appealing option because I am not great at self-promotion, which is a crucial skill for self-publishing success.

2) How should I “put myself out there” as a writer? Because again, I’m not a masterful self-promoter. I recently took the plunge and set up a Facebook author page, and I can’t even bring myself to invite people to “like” it because that feels disingenuous. I want to be very clear here that I don’t look down on people who invite me to “like” their pages. I just can’t bring myself to do it because when I think about it, it doesn’t feel like a me thing to do, if that makes any sense. I am in awe of people who are good at self-promotion.

3) What am I even doing, anyway? Should I even “put myself out there”? Where is this “out there” of which I speak? What does any of this even mean?!? Is anybody else out there wondering this stuff (please say yes)? What am I offering people? Does anybody really need to hear the stories I have to tell? What is it that I hope to achieve by writing books, anyway? Should I just grow up and get a Real Job (please say no)? And, for the love of all that is good and holy, IS THIS CHILD EVER GOING TO FALL ASLEEP??? (Please, PLEASE say yes!! Also, know that if you start spouting some ancient wisdom about how “these are the best days of my life,” I am not actually going to kick you in the shins, but I will be thinking about it).

So that’s all I’ve got. Questions.

Oh, and one more, which is more a rhetorical, philosophical sort of question than anything else:

If this child is not asleep by midnight, which one of us is going to turn into a hobgoblin first?

23 thoughts on “My little hobgoblin, and the hobgoblins of my little mind

  1. I would tell you to get out of my head, but the truth is, it’s less scary knowing I’m not the only one living this way. That said, four things:

    1. I love the idea of publishing a novel on your blog installment style. To be honest I’ve been sitting here re-watching Buffy season one and considering whether the apocalypse stories I should publish on my site are my own (note to self: you can’t write and watch Buffy at the SAME TIME).
    2. I have invited a total of 5 people to like the Apocalypse Garden, because reasons (like not wanting to inflict the apocalypse on my friends), and it took me 7 months to invite them–the good news: I now have 22 followers, most of whom were friends of those 5 people (and thank you for that). Perhaps we could consider a pact–invite one person each a week?
    3. Writing stories, yes (because if you didn’t we would never have met), the space beyond the notebook, :), yes, your special brand of medicine, yes, I’m not even how to answer that for myself (maybe joy, connection, and having a positive impact on people’s lives?), no… no… a thousand times no… believe me, I tried it and to say that it’s overrated is an extreme understatement, yes.


    1. Lauren, I’m so thankful to have met you. Pretty much everything you write gets the same response from me–“She is in my head!!” And it makes the world feel like a much less apocalyptic place. I’d love to read your stories! And I love your blog, too. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only self-promotion non-genius out there. I like this pact idea. Maybe we should invite people to each other’s sites. I’m totally down with promoting *other* people’s awesomeness. 🙂 I think the ultimate brilliance of your blog lies in the hopefulness angle–it’s genius to craft an apocalypse garden with the goal of inspiring hope rather than fear.

      1. I love the idea of promoting each other. Let’s do it!

        And thank you for being the first person to really see what I was trying to build with my apocalypse garden. You helped me believe that if I keep at it other people might be able to change their perspective–to find hope and empowerment in talking about disaster, instead of defaulting to ignorance and fear.

  2. Yes. And then, no. And finally – yes. (At least I hope so!) How is it that you wrote so much of what I’ve been pondering with this prompt. Thank you a million times over for articulating the jumbled thoughts inside my head. Mind reader can now be added to your long list of many talents. :0)

    1. Barb, you are my extroverted twin, aren’t you?? 🙂 It has amazed me how many times on this Quest someone else has articulated *exactly* what I needed to say but hadn’t been able to yet. You are most welcome, and thank you so much for taking the time to read and connect.

  3. Thanks for this post. Now you’ve got me thinking too. And questioning. Which is good. Because without questions there won’t be answers and we’d never know what lies behind the next corner. And we’d all write the same stories. And that would be mind-numbingly boring. So hooray for the little hobgoblins. They shake things up and make us better writers. And now I’m going off to like your FB page 😀

    1. You’re welcome–and thank *you* very much! Great point about writing the same stories. Ugh, that would be awful, wouldn’t it? You’re right, the little hobgoblins and bumps and challenges, as bumpy and challenging as they may be, ultimately make us stronger. And thanks for the FB page like–I saw it this morning and got all excited. 😀

  4. Add me to the list of people whose mind you were in. It’s funny, I don’t mind promoting my business at all these days. Sharing writing or publicly calling myself a writer – I see it still getting me most times. Definitely a hobgoblin. Thanks so much for this post, it is truly helpful to see I’m not the only one – cause when I’m on one of my jags, I can convince myself very handily that I am. Did the boy ever fall off into the sleepies?

    1. Molly, it makes me feel worlds better any time somebody identifies with this! It’s so easy to get stuck in my introverted, self-critical writer brain and think that I’m some kind of anomaly. I’ve finally embraced naming myself as a writer, but sharing fiction for some reason is super-tough. As for that boy…..the sleepies happened not long before midnight. And tonight, here I am again…..dang hobgoblins.

  5. Ah, parenthood. I think I turned into a hobgoblin a long time ago, I just disguise it well. I would love to see a serial on your blog! Self-promotion is tricky. The best advice I ever received was “give give get” – give to others in your network, and eventually opportunity comes back to you in a way you never imagined. I prefer to do the giving rather than blaring my horn everywhere. It’s more “me.” 🙂

    1. Giving–YES! I’m way more comfortable with that. You do a lovely job of it, Sue, and I so appreciate your kind and constant intentionality. (Is that a word? The kid is still coughing and once again I am sitting at the foot of his bed…..) I think a serial could be really fun, and then I start to freak–a little about piracy and a lot about the sheer act of putting creative writing out there.

  6. Typing this from the bedside of my own soon-to-be hobgoblin. This child does not sleep. You know what all of us writerly too-humble women should do? We should just agree to promote each other as much as we should promote ourselves. I have no problem talking about how much I love someone else’s writing, then I whisper a little “you can read my book if you want to, but you don’t have to, and if you do, you don’t have to like it.” Put your words out there. If you love what you write, there are people who will love to read it; we are all not so different after all.

    1. I like your approach! I will talk up other writers all day long. And I am sending you all kinds of writer/mama empathy. What is up with these insomniac hobgoblins?? But back to the writing–do you have some fiction out there in the world that I can read? I would love to encounter it. 🙂

      1. Thank you, Brenna! My theory is that they’re lunatics. I am on my final edits (oh how I hope) of my book, Bright Aster, which I am self-publishing. I actually published it in September, but I hated the title and the cover and it needed some brutal cuts (such a learning curve). I’ll happily let you know when it’s up, with that vehement caveat that you don’t have to seek it out, read it or like it if you do. 🙂

        1. I would love to read it! Thanks so much for sharing. The title alone makes me want to dive into it. I’d also love to know how your publication adventure unfolds–best wishes!

  7. Oh good grief, Brenna – this is so, so wonderful. In so many ways –

    YES, I have been wondering so many of the same things (obviously, since my post followed yours, though you went into more exquisite and agonizing details).

    NO to the day job. Unless you have to. Then hopefully it is something interesting and satisfying in its on right, or the Mother Lode of Writing Fodder.

    Oh, and if you publish your books in Dickensonian style, I might come to you with the idea of doing the audio/podcast version. Just a thought for some back burner. 🙂

    With your permission I will likely link to this in an upcoming post, too.

    I think there is medicine in commradarie, too, by the way. Even between people who have never met in person.

    1. Thanks so much! You are welcome to link to anything on my blog any time. Oooh, podcasting……that sounds fancy! Thanks for the reassurance about the day job–I go back and forth, but I never go totally forth, and so I always keep coming back to sticking it out a little longer, and a little longer, and a little longer (meaning, of course, that I do not ever want to work for The Man again).

  8. I completely understand…I was fortunate enough to be able to walk away from my day job a year ago. It’s wasn’t a big corporate job; had its very good points and the work was at times creative and benefitted others in a meaningful way. There are many ways to work the employment thing, but I am a big proponent of being in charge of one’s own time (and therefore life) as much as possible.

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