An Epiphany

Today I made a decision. Not of great moment to anybody else, but important to me. I have decided that there are many important things in life, and pimping a hypothetical author platform isn’t one of them. I thought that as I watched a glorious Purple Emperor choosing a suitable flower on the promenade next to the river.

©Rosenzweig (talk)
©Rosenzweig (talk)

Usually these are the moments when I find myself teasing out the words of a poem. Not this morning. My attention was drawn from the butterfly to a pirate emerging from the riverbank clutching a bouquet of buddleia spires. He collected his crutch from beneath the mulberry tree where he’d left it and came over to have a word. The flowers were for a lady friend who had been a musician until an accident left her right arm paralysed.
He’s a lively-eyed old gentleman pirate who can talk non-stop. We stood by the ‘pigeonnier’, a sort of wooden shed on stilts on the riverbank that the municipality is using for humane pigeon control. Inside it’s fitted out with nesting boxes all of which seem to be occupied. Employees catch pigeons and lock them up inside for ten days, visiting every day to feed and water them. When they are released they don’t wander far from what they have learnt is a pretty cushy number. A council worker comes round regularly and leaves pigeon food out for them. They naturally go back there to nest, which is when Big Brother steps in with a big needle to puncture the eggs. The pigeons sit on the sterile eggs none the wiser for the regulation pigeon-hatching time, then bugger off. After many rounds of this procedure, the theory is that the pigeons will eventually die out, or as near as dammit.

Base of the pigeonnier—I was trying to snap the rabbit underneath it
Base of the pigeonnier—I was trying to snap the rabbit underneath it

Our conversation about pigeons, butterflies, buddleia and paralysis was interrupted by a sharp, angry outburst from one of the benches occupied by a group of Bulgarians. A middle-aged man with a dark-haired woman’s head in his lap was waving his arms, and a small implement about in paroxysms of fury. The woman lying across the bench wailed, shifted slightly and shut up. Her compatriots leaned over the bench with bored expressions and went back to their silent contemplation. The man bent over her face and went back to his minute operation, still shouting at the woman lying across his lap. My pirate friend scowled and said words to the effect that they had been there for hours. The man was plucking her facial hair and she didn’t like it.
So, get to the point, I hear you say. What’s that got to do with anything? The point is that it has everything to do with it. There are just so many hours in the day, so many days in a life. I don’t feel I have so many hours and days to waste on things that I get no pleasure out of whatsoever. There are too many butterflies, pigeonniers, pirates, hirsute Bulgarian women, and mulberry trees to waste time with inessentials like networking. I write because I love writing, not because I can sell it. I didn’t have a family so I could sell my children. I will carry on blogging about what interests me, and sharing my space in the ether with other bloggers and struggling writers. I will carry on writing poetry because it’s become second nature, and I will do my best to set down all the stories that come to me before they fade away.
What I am not going to do is post my work on so-called promotional sites to get so-called feedback. I am not going to waste my time giving my two penn’orth of critical analysis to people who just want me to return the one-word critique they give me—awesome. I am not going to post pleas to read my books on all the FB groups I have joined, or tweet ad nauseam same pleas. My promotion is going to start and end with the news that the new book is there, available, and all you have to do if you’re interested is read it. I’ll give updates, maybe excerpts, and show off the bits I’m proud of. I might even do a giveaway now and again. But I am not going to stalk agents, reviewers, publishers, or writers whose success makes me jealous. Mainly because it doesn’t do any good, none of them gives a tinker’s cuss, and it’s a waste of time.
Of course, if I don’t do any of the recommended promotional activities nobody is even going to know about my books, are they? Probably not. Not many anyway. But I have done free downloads and hundreds are people across the globe are in possession of one or other of my books. Will they ever get round to reading it? Maybe, maybe not. Will they write a review if they enjoyed it? Probably not. Will they shell out good money, no matter how little, for another book in the series? Again, unlikely. So why bother?
When I read reviews like the one Kathy Ree posted this morning, I don’t really care about all those collectors of freebies, or those people who just don’t like the sound of the books. I care that there is a handful of people who do actually enjoy what I write. If the handful ever grows to two handfuls I’ll be pleased, but it won’t be because I’ve inundated FB with begging letters.

If anybody else feels the same, stand up and be counted. You can rant as much as you like in the comment box. If you want to write an article on it I’ll be pleased to post it here. Now, back to butterflies.