Modest Genius or Psychic: Hats Off to Hoff

Back in the heady days of 2010 and 2011 when I was busy creating “Vampire Syndrome”, one of the fellow members of my critique group was a young woman by the name of Michelle Hoff. She was in the process of creating her magnum comedy opus, “Banged By The Flash“.

Both of us finished our respective works in 2012, and released them to the world.

I went through a strange and intensive multi-year, multi-stage labyrinth of moving up to a small press, and even being signed to a television development deal, before finally ending back up at ground zero and concluding my “writing” life.

Michelle, by contrast, released her e-book on Amazon, and quit writing immediately afterward.

I didn’t understand her reasons for doing so at the time, but I do now. Not just that, I really admire her for doing this, as well.

I, like 99.9999999999999% of all authors out there, was trying to make a cultural impact. To change the world, or at least some of my readers, for the better.

Michelle, by contrast, wanted nothing more than to write her novel and be done with it. Most likely a “bucket list” proposition, which I would infer from her Amazon author page photo of her trip to Costa Rica a year later. I myself fulfilled a bucket list dream by driving my 1960 Plymouth station wagon on a 3,000+ mile road trip from Denver to northern Washington state (and back) in 2012. Which cost more than first-class airfare, but a first-class road trip life experience is far more precious and much less common than the “easy” way of flying on a commercial aircraft. Now, piloting a light aircraft yourself down to Costa Rica, that would be more analogous to my road trip.

There are two ways I can interpret Michelle’s writing a sole novel just to complete it. Either she is the humblest and wisest author on the face of the Earth, with no other goal but to create one book, “do it right” with the input of a professional critique group, and be done with it, with no further expectations of “how it will do” or “what more can I create?”

She can say, “I wrote a professional-quality novel, vetted by a professional critique group, and you can still buy it on Amazon.”
Which is far more than 99.9999999999999% of all the people saying they have a “great idea for a novel” will ever do.

That, or she was a psychic who could see how the publishing industry and authors’ statures would decline after 2012, and wrote her sole opus while the getting was still relatively good. 😈

Either way, now that I’m finally back to ground zero and normal life, I salute the woman who didn’t take seven years to get back to this, as I did.

4 Comments

  1. The world is being run by bean counters. Sorry to hear about your deal falling through. That sucks (pardon the pun, I guess…). Had wondered where you’d gone.

    Hey, I’ve been writing since I was six years old, and look at how far I’ve come! Ha! That’s right! But I love doing what I’m doing anyway! I see crappy and uninspired (to me) work succeeding. And none of this even touches on all the ultra violent and dark work that also seems to be succeeding! We keep talking about wanting peace in the world, but we keep publishing and reading nasty shit! Peace starts at HOME. Anyway, all I can offer is if writing is what you really want to do, then do it. At least in today’s world there IS indie publishing. And some readers will find your work. Everyone seems so damn jaded in Traditional Publishing and no one wants to help unique voices build careers, and they are actually LOOKING for reasons to reject, versus the other way around, which, again–to me–is absolutely the wrong way of going about business. You always find what you’re looking FOR. They also seem to keep saying to give the readers what they want…well, to me that’s like the ancient Romans who gave their people the Coliseum and its bread and circuses. I know I’m simplifying much of the issue, but, that…to me…is my experience. I’ve come to terms with it, as I approach day job retirement, and I’m good with it. I’ve been able to write my stories my entire life, whether or not many readers found my work. It is what it is. Adapt or die. Don’t feel bad for yourself (I know, it’s hard at first)…just l keep going forward and doing what you do. There IS an audience for your work. You just haven’t found it yet. Write…just write…the torpedoes be damned!

    • Great insights, Frank! I was never really a “born writer” per se. I never had any ambitions to write until I was 43 years old. After reading the Twilight Saga, I set about to create something “better than that”, and I did. This did at least get me many great friends on Facebook I would not have otherwise.
      Those like you who enjoy writing “in and of itself” and love what you’re doing, more power to you. Then it’s something that “brings you joy”, in Marie Kondo parlance.
      Me, though, writing was a means to an end, and without the “end”…
      I wanted to change people’s perceptions about those with special needs, and I realize now I can do that by volunteering at Special Olympics events or working at ARC after I retire from my career (also fast approaching for me, but not fast enough…is it ever?).
      Funny how all those Twilight haters said they wanted an “anti-Twilight”, something “better”; but when I built it, they didn’t come. They instead went for Fifty Shades, Edward Stalker Cullen taken to the max. “Bread and Circuses”, indeed. 😈
      Like Michelle, though, at least I “built it”, which fulfills a bucket list entry millions never will.
      And it was wonderful that a Hollywood producer loved my novel, even if the “suits” around him prefer to do reboots etc. for Netflix.
      I could spend the rest of my free time writing stuff virtually nobody will read, or I can get out and enjoy the world.
      So off I go to Pueblo Reservoir!
      Thanks again for the thoughtful comment!

      • You ARE finding your way. Follow “the Fall Line” (a skiing term) of your life, which it appears you are.

        As some panels stated at a 2018 Mountain Of Authors event in Colorado Springs (from my post [https://fpdorchak.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/mountain-of-authors-at-pikes-peak-library-district-2018/] on it): “…how not to let the publishing industry ‘get to you’…but to accept and ride out your need to get away from it all. To not forget to cultivate your LIFE…about not allowing writing to BE your entire life.”

        Daven, you’re most welcome–and ENJOY life!


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