A Year in (the) Rear-view – New Bayou Books
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”Albert Einstein
So, coming up on my one year anniversary of writing this blog, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Not so much about the blog, specifically. More about New Bayou Books overall and what I’m trying to do through it. [As a quick reminder, my aim is simple: to spark a renaissance in South-Louisiana literature . . . I don’t want much, do I?] In addition to the weekly blog, I write new, Louisiana-centric fiction every day, and most every week, I try to reach out to at least one new person somehow connected to my mission. I’ve engaged with librarians, university professors, fellow writers, editors, business owners . . . all kinds of folks.
I may throw out some numbers in my anniversary blog next week, but for now, trust me when I say that my efforts have generally fallen on deaf ears. Whether it’s selling books or selling the idea of New Bayou Books, I generally whiff when I step up to the plate. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s tough. But I can’t give up.
Let me give you a couple reasons why, in case this is interesting to you or perhaps maybe you’re in a similar situation. The first reason I can’t shut it down is simply because I haven’t been at it long enough. I think I filed the original paperwork to “incorporate”, or whatever the right word is, New Bayou Books, LLC with the state of Louisiana in December of 2020. So by that clock I’m basically two years into it. But really, I’ve only been doing the blog for a year (next week will be my 52nd entry).
Now, you might be thinking damn Jason! That’s a long ass time! And I hear you. In one sense, it does feel like I’ve been at it for a while. I liked to think I’ve learned something new every week, especially over the past year . . . so those lessons feel like a kind of aging process. But in the grand scheme of things, one year aint shit. It’s definitely not time to start invoking the Einstein quote about insanity.
And I don’t think I’m alone on that front. The other day I was listening to Amy Chua, the author of that “Tiger Mom” book, on Bari Weiss’s Honestly podcast, and Amy was telling a story about trying to get into law school. She talked about how, after she’d applied and been rejected by one hundred law schools, she went to her dad to break the news to him that she wasn’t going to be a lawyer. How could she? Pretty much every school in the country had rejected her. And basically he was like “100? You only applied to a hundred schools and you’re already giving up?”
So the numbers are relative. But more to the point, at least for me, is that the longer I go, the stronger sense of self I feel. It’s like, anybody can write a handful of blogs and see what happens. Anybody can write one novel and put it on Amazon. But not everyone is willing to do what I’m doing . . . which is simply to keep going. To persist.
Because one thing I’m realizing is that, even though the numbers–whether it’s book sales or blog visits–are weak . . . actually, maybe it’s because the numbers are weak . . . there’s meaning in the effort. It’s the commitment–my commitment to the commitment. That’s the thing. I wanted to be a writer, and so I started writing every day. The longer I “toil in obscurity” (a pretty vain phrase, don’t you think?), the greater the sense of meaning becomes.
I’m not sure if any of that makes sense to you, but it makes sense to me. Maybe it’s age. I’m just shy of 50 and at this point, my days of asking other people for permission to do and think and be the way I want to be is so distant a memory it feels like childhood mythology. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll never sell more than a thousand books in my lifetime. There’s a better than average chance I’ll leave behind a few hundred blogs that, at best, might be a casual interest to my son after I’m long gone to dust.
But it’s all good, because my commitment is to the process, the journey, and all that. Insert your favorite cliché here, and scoff if you want. Because the longer this writing journey continues, the more it makes sense to this crazy mother fucker.
Until next week, enjoy the ride, my friends.