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  • Robert Lynch

Dopamine

More often than I would like to admit, I have had the time to write but instead procrastinated by watching TV or playing games. It bugs the hell out of me because in the moment I justify my behaviour as ‘being tired.’ And after working a week of full-time nightshift, or getting three hours of broken sleep while the neighbour mows his lawn, it is true – I am tired. Later, I’m kicking myself because I didn’t get as much done in the week as I wanted. It’s hard to tell the difference, even in hindsight, between being legitimately tired, and being lazy.


What I do know is that in that moment my brain chose the quick fix; the tiny droplets of dopamine that it gets from completing video game quests or watching old episodes of Star Trek.


This week I had an unexpected big dose of dopamine, and it’s got me thinking.


In March, when the world’s economy went into recession, I stopped running any ads. I figured that consumers would become more austere and not spend money on my stuff. Fiction is not as important as food or rent, and while it’s true that we all need an escape, if consumers were to spend money on fiction, it would be with an author that they recognise. In abundant times it’s easy to through a couple dollars on an unknown author, but when times are tough, you want to stick with what you know.


In the same vein, I started to get more hours at work, and along with more anxiety and less sleep, I found it hard to write. Since then I’ve only sporadically been publishing free stuff, and I’m only just now starting to get back into a writing routine.


Which is why I was so surprised when I made a sale this week.



That’s right; I’m rich! I made a sweet US$0.93 from Baker & Taylor (pending). A copy of Crash was borrowed at a library somewhere in America, who use Baker & Taylor as a source for ebooks. This isn’t my first library sale, but since I stopped advertising I haven’t had any sales; then this one out of the blue. I did nothing to get this sale, except for the work that I did in January to make the cover and write the product description.


A single sale may not seem like much, and that’s because it isn’t much, but it was a huge dose of happiness I never saw coming. And a dose of happiness that was an avalanche compared to the absent stones that a climber might loosen as they walk. I honestly felt happy for a whole day, and I wrote a 1500 story in a single sitting.


Clearly, I need to get more products out there, in as many formats and as many places as I can, along with a concerted effort to get my stuff in front of more readers. Sales aren’t everything, and I enjoy the writing process, but for me, it is giving another person that moment of escape that I cherish so much — a far off universe where life is diverse and incredible. I want to give that to as many readers as I can, just as it has been given to me by so many authors. If I am to have the largest effect I can, I must write full time, and that means making sales. Ninety-three cents isn’t much, but it’s an indicator that maybe the shock of the pandemic has reached its peak and people are starting to get back on with life again. If they are, then I had better too.

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