I have read personal essays by authors who say they need to write. I have never thought of writing as a need, and I don’t have a sense of what it might feel like. The best I can muster up is a joy for writing. On most days I consider myself lucky that the act of putting thoughts to paper has not evolved into an obsession (I still use pen and paper for my initial thoughts, then rewrite and edit on my computer). For me, writing remains a serious hobby, and the day it stops being fun is the day I start spending more time outdoors. 

None of this is to say I do not want my efforts to result in published books. I do not mind it when a manuscript takes three, four, five years to complete, but I want there to be a product on the tail end. This brings me to the current situation with my most recent manuscript. It is 90% complete. All that remains is to rewrite the last two chapters and do a final comprehensive edit once the entire manuscript is in final draft form. In other words, it is time to find a publisher. There are, as far as I can tell, two parts to writing that are not pleasurable. One is finding a publisher, and the other is marketing a completed book.

As I search for a publisher, I realize I’ve been spoiled the past seventeen years. After Wood ‘N Barnes published my first book back in 2003, it went on to accept just about anything else I sent their way. I’d present Dave and Mony with a general concept and a few sample chapters, and they would commit their resources to the project. Unfortunately Wood ‘N Barnes, like many other niche publishing houses, went out of business this past last decade. It held out longer than most, but it too is gone – and I am back on the open market. 

Yesterday I received a rejection notice from a university press that had initially expressed interest in my book. Of the two dozen book proposals I have sent out, three publishers requested additional information. None of the three follow-ups has resulted in a contract. I am disappointed, but not disheartened.  For the next couple of weeks, I probably should use my writing time to send out a new batch of book proposals. It won’t be fun, and I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll do it. In early December, my time might be better spent cutting down a Christmas tree, stringing lights, and buying presents for my wife, mom, and daughter.   

Steven Simpson