Forty-Niner

It’s 9:11am on the first morning of the Daylight Savings Time switch, and the caffeine doesn’t make a dent in the fog. Perfect time for an existential crisis.

A long day of editing ahead, and here I am, wondering why I care or bother. Very few people read my books. The hundreds who follow me on social media are writers, too. We tweet the same things over and over: writer’s lifts, agent hints, links to free books, and snarky puns. We support each other when we can, but their pleas on the screen are the voices in my head. What can I do to get people to read me? Where are the reviews? When is fame and fortune? Do I matter?

We are the forty-niners.

Not the football team, but the prospectors of old that scour the mountains for riches. We lay out our claims and hack away at heavy stone walls, and sometimes believe we’ve struck a vein when all we found is fool’s gold. We’re deep underground in these personal holes often by ourselves, and we can’t explain why we’re here to the uninitiated (non-writers), nor can we explain what we do to loved ones and colleagues. They nod politely, pretending to empathize, and they promise to seek out our gems, but we know from our sales that they never do. We learned long ago to never believe them when they say they’ll buy our books, though the lesson is a hard one to come by.

We always return to the mine, tapping away at the rock, hoping for that tiny bright flash of relevance in the darkness of ignominy. Life is the journey, not the destination, right?

Here I am, procrastinating, writing a blog post. I don’t want to edit. In my chair by the big window, I watch a world of light and blue skies. The robin flies by, a twig in their mouth, building a home and future for its family. The trees strain to burst in green leaves, and our lilac bush in front will signal the Spring with fragrant violet flames. In the backyard next door, the brown and white bull pit puppy prances and leaps for imaginary bugs, maybe catching one or two before settling down for a nap in the dirt and sun.

I sigh and return to the routine. I retweet my pinned tweet, check my sales (zero as always), put on my mining helmet, pick up my Chromebook-shaped pick-and-ax, and return to my one-person mine.

Maybe today I’ll find the gold.

Or maybe tomorrow.

Tap, tap. tap.

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