Lone Wolves and Prides of Lions--by Reb MacRath
Dark dreams afflicted me: torn throats and treacheries beyond the heart's endurance. I saw a blur of fur and fury, a red mist of spiritual rot on the rip. I saw myself discovering the lone wolf in my heart.
You can imagine my predicament, since I don't even like wolves. I once called a wolf a thug in a hair suit and I stand by that assessment. Wolves in packs aren't any better--a step up from hyenas--though they have the sense to bounce the thugs out only for themselves. No, I don't like wolves at all and I believe Jack London was probably pure wolf himself.
Nevertheless, there I was at the end of 2012--with 4 ebooks that hadn't sold five copies and hadn't attracted too many more reviews. As I glanced about EbookLandia, I saw a frightening, icy terrain with lone wolves lording over hoards of starving beasts scrounging for crumbs. The lone wolves loved attention; and they loved reviews; and above all they loved their fat paychecks. But they shared little in return. And nobody knew where they'd buried their more revolting past tricks. Those who knew did not tell; and those who guessed, by and large, didn't have a clue.
The theme song that played in the background was Schadenfreude. (Per Google: An English expression with a similar meaning is Roman holiday, a metaphor from the poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by George Gordon, Lord Byron, where a gladiator in Ancient Rome expects to be "butchered to make a Roman holiday" while the audience would take pleasure from watching his suffering.)
Was it any wonder that dark dreams afflicted me...and that I seriously wondered if I'd sell my soul to become a lone wolf? I took no action on my thoughts. The bitter metamorphosis would have taken years. And yet, God forgive me, I wondered...
But something astonishing happened in January 2013. And this astonishing something turned my thoughts to prides of lions. At the urging of John A. A. Logan, I was invited to become the first non-U.K. member of Authors Electric. The honor stunned me. This was the first time since I'd arrived in icy EbookLandia that I'd been invited anywhere. And I now found myself in the presence of a tightly knit, supportive group of true-blue professionals--some of whom had also been legacy-published and dumped.
It got better still, and quickly, when AE opened its private page on FaceBook. In this cozy lounge members could open up about agents, publishers, contracts, promotion--and, bless me, technical things like formatting, changing type on Amazon, etc. It was possible here to ask for help in the form of reviews or promotion.
Now, the help in itself was most welcome. But more welcome still was the knowledge that prides of lions also roamed where I had gotten whupped. And lions banded together to hunt here for all required to help their books live--not because they are weak...but because they find strength in resources pooled together. I received quick help when needed from: Sue Price, Debbie Bennett, John Logan, Valerie Laws, Bill Kirton, Catherine Czerkawska, Cally Phillips,Chris Longmuir, Mark Chisnell, Kathleen Jones, Pauline Fisk--and Elizabeth Kay for the photo above.
This still left me with the challenge of reconciling my inner lone wolf with the new joy of belonging to a pride of lions. I resolved it in good time with no inner long division. The lone wolf rules when I work on a book: my decisions are mine and I'm out for the good of the story, the style, the pacing and tone. When I write, I'm at war with Committees: six hacks to write a screenplay, six more to revise it, twelve studio executives to tear it all to pieces...and then three orangutans to put it back together. The war isn't for MeMe--but me and my book. But then when I've done what it is that I do, I return to my place with the lions. And, man, it is good to be home.
The rules of the pride are quite simple:
You hunt together as brothers and sisters.
You share as much as you can of your catch.
You remember those who've helped you.
You never dishonor the pride.