Going it Mostly Alone: the Publishing Path of A Perfect Blindness
Imperfect action yields more results than perfecting the planning.
Picking my mental hammer up, I took it to the weakest part of my platform: me. Specifically, to that part of me that had shackled itself to other people’s models and methods, by deciding that learning everything possible about them first, while taking copious notes to ensure I missed not a single advantage, trick or essential action, which created longer and longer lists I imagined showing off.
See! Look it! Aren’t I the most prepared new author of all! I will rock when I effect this plan. I’ll prove to everyone I’m right.
This last thought sounds a scary lot like the thinking of Scott from A Perfect Blindness, the tragic Point of View character who completely misses what he needs to do and so brings disaster upon himself and those around him.
This should have screamed at me that using my mental hammer to affix on high this current plan of continual preparation in order to act perfectly was madness. This was no map to sales but disaster. I heard but ignored my own good advice that I should hunt down the reason I cling to this path, put that belief (read fear) in a room and nailed it shut—I’ve fictionalized the disaster that comes from misunderstanding one’s own motives, for being blind to one’s self. In fact, the unspoken tag line of the book tells me that ‘self-deception is the most treacherous lie of all.’
Even as I forced myself to act, I studiously avoided seeing what lead me here. After a brief spurt of action, this drama plays out several more times over the next 4 months, with glimpses of the truth vanishing before I can pull it into the light completely.Had I been fully willing to push my fingers through dark and minatory recesses of my mind and motivations, I would have easily found fear, which I’d fooled myself into thinking I’d risen above.
I’ve long known the books is not for everyone, not only is it written in “a dense passionate prose” (as Kirkus Reviews put it), but there are a few graphic sex scenes—which reveal the POV character’s interior—some drug use, as well as being set over a quarter of a century ago in a place that has largely transformed, and it being an atypical story of a rock ’n’ roll band that is really the journey of three people from self-ignorance toward self-enlightenment as told from each of the three intertwining points of view. Basically hiding what was to have been my doctoral thesis put into motion inside the sweet coating of a rollicking bar crawl with an electro-industrial band and sexy hangers on.
The question I’ve been dodging the answer to is ‘What if it’s for no one?’
By avoiding really launching, I can’t find out that the answer to that question. Of course, I cannot find out the answer to ‘How many people really like it?’ either.
So, I’ve created a Schrödinger’s cat of a launch, one that lets me both avoid finding out that no one wants the book, but also still allows me to fantasize that once I actually do the work needed, it will find success: the book both bombs and succeeds famously at the same time. To know which, all I have to do is open the box and peek inside, i.e., try to get people interested in reading it. Then again, I might find out it’s neither, simply a middling book of no particular merit. Worthy of some of the time and money and effort I’ve poured into it, but hardly the hit I can still imagine it being.
Finally, it allows me to avoid revealing that it’s not going well by explaining that I’m still preparing for my launch, which is so, very involved and complex and takes a lot of planning and time, etc. etc. Which is another trick I’ve been playing on myself—the infamous disingenuous explanation of what I’m doing.
For four months after the book went live, I’ve acted out this dishonest answer by eating more and more knowledge, growing and rearranging my list, punctuated by some actions, which tend towards preparing to reach out, so I’ve found a way to both act but still keep my hand firmly on the lid covering the box, so I cannot find out my book isn’t that good, while still believing it will be a hit: no peeking!
That fear of knowing is the beast I need to hunt down, drag into a room, lock up and nail shut. Once it cannot infect my mind, I’ll be able to do with outreach needed to finally see if my book will sell or sit lonely on websites with hardly a review to its name.
Then I can also find the swagger that started and sustained this book from its very beginning, which will let me do the work I need to do if the book is to have any hope to sell at all.
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