Yesterday morning, I got up, swallowed a bunch of drugs too boring to mention here, stretched a bit…
And proceeded to kill Jim Winter. It took ten minutes. I deleted the “As Jim Winter” page on this site. Logged into my host and deleted the new web site for my crime fiction. Then I proceeded to turn off all the Winter books on Amazon and elsewhere. Pretty easy.
It’s not the first time I’ve tried to make a break. Jim’s blog still exists and probably needs to be deleted, but there are WordPress issues I have to address for that. So the question that’s burning in your minds (all two of you) is “Why?”
For 15 years, I tried to break into traditional publishing as Jim Winter, first writing PI fiction, then a romp called Road Rules, then an massive police story called Holland Bay. Holland Bay is why I continued after abandoning Jim the first time to write science fiction as TS Hottle. Holland Bay is also why I pulled the plug yesterday.
Holland Bay was begun in 2007, so long ago that, until this week, I sweated how to finesse a scene where a character uses a payphone because I have not seen an actual functioning payphone in about five years. (I’ve been informed they still exist in New York’s Penn Station.) It’s not a conventional story. The POV shifts would give George RR Martin whiplash. It’s been edited once, rewritten at the request of an agent who pulled out at the last minute, and frankly has been revised and rewritten so many times over the years that any further revision will literally kill the story.
And that’s what the proofreader said I needed to do.
I had it. Currently on my plate, I have major revisions for Tishla and another unpublished novella, Quantonesia, to finish. I need to outline Amargosa 3. At some point, I have to dig out Amargosa 2. And I have to actually, yanno, market this universe I spun up. I no longer have time to work on a novel that’s never been released, and one I no longer have the motivation to work on. I also don’t have the energy or time or head space to devote to a pseudonym and a body of work that has earned me precisely $0 in the last six months. I’m tired, and Jim is sitting in the man cave in my head drinking all the beer and binge-watching PornHub and not paying his rent. So like Kim Jong-Un, it’s time for him to go. Unlike Kim, no tactical nukes required.
And really, for the last two years, I’ve felt like Jim Winter was an obligation thrust on me rather than something I wanted to do. There are the usual self-publishing maxims tossed at me.
“Well, just leave it out there to make money for you!” It makes no money for me.
“All you need is a newsletter.” I haven’t even done the TS Hottle newsletter in about two months. When the hell am I going to do one for a neglected pen name.
“But traditional publishing takes so much of your money away!” Nobody said I was going trad. I’m not. But I have only so much time and head space to devote to what I write, and that is the issue here.
Jim Winter has probably cost me two marriages because I kept devoting time to that name and the work it graces instead of two women who needed more of my attention. There were other issues, of course, some mine, some theirs, but if I wasn’t busy trying to write something everyone trying to help me wanted to morph into something it wasn’t, a lot of the problems that led to my becoming single once more (and theirs as well) could have been addressed and fought through. It’s distracted from several jobs, including my current one, which has been the most fulfilling of my career. It sucks up time I need to be down and recharge.
So I’m just focusing on TS Hottle, my real name, and work I want to do, that I don’t have to explain or make something it’s not. I’ve bluntly told a couple people who said they didn’t like it to go read something else. (Usually, I make a recommendation. Hey, if you slogged through my work, and I got a cup of coffee from your hard-earned cash…)
Besides, only a tiny fraction of writers ever make it. I’ll be satisfied if it pays off the mortgage. It won’t do that unless I focus on the here and now. Killing off Jim Winter let’s me do that.