Why I Walked Away

True writers write when the emotional angst of getting something off their chest becomes overwhelming. This post has been a while in the making. On October 1st 2018 I quit social media, and writing. Yeah, I made a few Facebook posts; maybe four or five in two months. A far cry from the six every day that it used to be. In terms of writing, my last book was published in early 2017, almost two years ago.

So what happened? Let’s start with the less important, social media. First you have to understand that I generally have a poor impression of humanity to start with. While there are many amazing and warm people who’s light shines brightly upon mankind, those people are far outnumbered by the complete idiots whose DNA is clearly missing a few strands. With something like Facebook, it works best if you have a small circle of friends and family and you share positive moments, as the medium was probably intended to be used. But if you are a semi-introverted, semi-popular writer thrust into a semi-public life, Facebook becomes a nightmare. Imagine 5000 strangers all showing you the very worst of themselves. I’ve received more unbelievably stupid shit in my inbox then I ever care to see again. Scrolling through my news feed became a tour d’force of ignorance, stupidity, and a time-sucking cesspool of human folly. There just weren’t enough bright spots to overcome the dark ones, and I finally had a moment of clarity to walk away from it. You should try it, because my life is much better for it. Twitter can have an honorable mention here, just to briefly say its morphed into nothing but a political mud pit where a million-person mob just lurks to attack you for any and every opinion you might dare to share. Social media has the potential to do amazing things for all of humanity and it’s global society, but as humans eventually do with all things, we’ve broken it.

Now for the writing. The very nature of what books mean to people and how they fit into society has changed over the last few decades. When I was kid there was no internet and there were no smartphones. There were no viral videos, blogs or podcasts; and as Pink Floyd so eloquently said it, there really was only thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from. When you needed escapism, you did one of two things; you went to the movie theater or you read a book. That’s all there was. I did both, but mostly I read. In those days the only way to escape your mundane every day world and find another was to open up The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and find yourself in Narnia. Or jump into The Hobbit and find yourself swimming in Smaug’s treasure under the mountain. Those were the days of great imagination, as pages and pages of wondrous text forced your brain to envision the worlds they depicted, all steeped in that amazing smell that old books have. Ebooks today do not have that. But more important than the missing aroma of aging pages, today’s electronic age allows people to carry entire movies on a phone in their pocket. In just a few seconds you can pull a screen out of your pants and watch any movie or TV show in the world. Why would you trade that for having to read a book and use your imagination? Technology has taken us to a place where escapism comes with instant gratification and amazing visuals, sounds, and special effects. Reading a book and using your imagination now seems like a boring chore. Reading has become as outdated as a vinyl record.

There’s something else too. While technology has diminished the presence of reading in our lives, the modern publishing industry has also diminished writers. When I was a kid reading Howard and Tolkien, being a published author was a huge deal. A well known writer was a rock star, because there really weren’t that many of them. When you got a publishing deal, when your book came off the printer, you had made it. You were a celebrity. Telling people you were a published author was akin to being a movie star. Today, we have self-publishing. Self-publishing means every single person reading this post can have a book published tomorrow, no questions asked, and sell it on Amazon. So what does that do? Well, it does allow some really talented and deserving “true writers” to get their stuff out and get exposure, and that’s a great thing. But remember those Facebook trolls whose DNA was missing a few strands? They can publish a book tomorrow too. And they do, by the thousands. Think about this – imagine watching Monday Night Football, and instead of Tom Brady playing, every Monday was amateur night and any random guy from the crowd could step in and play quarterback. That’s what self-publishing has done to being an author. And now with thousands and thousands of new books being published every day, the good writers, even the already famous ones, are struggling to find ways to get attention. Every day I see a James Patterson TV commercial, seemingly for a hurried book he writes about every two weeks. In the 70’s when Stephen king wrote Salem’s Lot, you didn’t see him on TV begging for attention. These are the days when writers are forced to have ‘.99 cent sales’ or give their work away for free just to get attention. In fact, many readers with low IQs are rating authors by whether or not they give free stuff, not by how they write. A respectable industry has fallen into embarrassing pettiness.

Think about this; everyone in the world has heard of or knows the famous story of Moby Dick. It was written by a guy named Herman Melville. Famous story, you’d think he’d be rich and famous from it, right? The book Moby Dick only sold twelve copies in his lifetime. Read that again. Only twelve copies. Then there’s H.P. Lovecraft. Everyone knows that name too. He has a legion of adoring fans today. Famous legendary horror writer. But in his day, he died completely penniless, barely able to make ends meet. His greatest fame came long after his death. So the struggle to be a famous writer, or even make a living from it, is already almost insurmountable. Now imagine trying to do it in the age of self-publishing, when even if you write a decent book, it’s completely buried under a thousand books written by people who can barely put a coherent thought together.

So that’s my struggle today. With everything I’ve said here, it makes it difficult to find the desire to continue fighting a war I may never win. There’s a lot of other things I can focus my time on instead. I can dump 4950 people from my Facebook and have a nice quiet and peaceful life. I can go relax and play video games instead of forcing myself to write which now feels like a chore that will never bring any real reward. I don’t know what I’ll do. There’s a good chance The 8th Day will never see retail release, and everyone who pre-ordered it will get their money back along with an apology. I just don’t know.

I do have some interesting plans if I decide to keep climbing that hill. When the third part of the Mason Stone trilogy is done, I want to release it all in one new book. A “Director’s Cut” of sorts, with all three books in one cover with some tweaks and improvements. It started to feel to me like the story would be better all together, told all at once, rather than treating it like three separate books. Judgment will always remain the great book that it is, but with it’s sequel The 8th Day, I thought it might be cool to release it as an ongoing series, like a chapter a month. Think of it like watching an episode of The Walking Dead every Sunday. The 8th Day, with new stories built upon the Judgment universe, would have a new episode every month. Eventually those could be compiled into a single book or set of books. The Das Vampir stories, of which there are currently three published, will have three more added and the six will be republished in a single book of short stories. Then there’s all the other books that are all half written, slated for release in 2019. I also have a lot of ideas for a weekly blog sort of thing.

To be totally honest, I have no idea what I will do in 2019. That’s what I’ve taken these last three months of this year to figure out. There is one thing I know for sure though. There have been a large group of you that have supported me and taken this ride with me all the way since 2015. Even if I never publish another word, I will always be grateful to you for that. So, thank you.

This will pretty much be it for me for now. I’m going to be under the radar for December, and figure out what the future holds. I hope everyone has great holidays and great new year. See you in 2019.

~Tom Reinhart