The year was 2002. I’d self-published Back to Life, put up a web site, and set about getting my name out there. From that moment on, I started my day with three solitary activities that brought me earth-shaking ecstasy. This, my writer masturbation, if you will, took the form of a) plugging my name into Google and seeing the number of hits I got; b) checking my rank on Amazon.com; and c) checking my rank on Barnes and Noble.com.
Oh, like I’m the only one who does this. Just like how only other people engage in that other form of auto-eroticism. Okay. Go on and take the delusory high road if you want to at my expense.
For those of you who don’t engage in the aforementioned three activities, trust me when I say it’s highly addictive. Every day, like the rat in the behaviorist experiment who presses the bar repeatedly, sometimes with an accompanying nasty shock until its food pellet shoots out, I check my Google hits and my rank on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. When a mainstream house republished Back to Life in 2004, writer masturbation began in earnest. I’d do it three… four… sometimes five times a day… slamming on that bar… waiting for the gratification that would send the adrenaline flowing through my body on tiny electrical currents… stimulating my amygdala. Between escalating sale numbers, Google hits in the tens of thousands, and the resultant orgasmic sense of euphoria, I, heading toward carpal tunnel syndrome at full speed, asked myself, “Who needs a man?!”
Flash a head four years. The steady paycheck from The Plantation is beginning to trump the uncertainty of dreams. I’m in publishing limbo, in terms of having a new release any time soon (we discussed this in a previous monthly therapy sessions on the 17th day of the month, remember?). My Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com numbers aren’t what they used to be. Fair weather friends have come and gone. Although you have to ask yourself how what sane person would be a star***ker to a writer anyway. We’re like Dr. Pepper – so misunderstood.
But I hang on to my morning writer masturbation ritual, even though my act is starting to sound like the actual sex that my married friends have with their husbands – half-assed, perfunctory, with very little in the way of the satisfaction afterwards. I do it, because I still get a decent number of Google hits. I still have a rank that’s comparable to many of my peers out there with two books on the market. Unlike the dull married sex, thousands of people like me. They really like me. Plus what I do fulfills me. Yes, I worry about pleasing someone else, but my needs always come first. I “get mine” first. I bet my next royalty check that my married friends can’t say that. They may think it, but that’s a whole different story… mercifully one that I don’t have to tell.
For these reasons alone, come the morning (no pun intended!), you know where you’ll find me… on the computer… doing my thing. Because I know that one day, writer masturbation will be good to me again as it was that very first time. Perhaps even better…