Tuesday, October 25, 2005

At Risk of Being a Bore...


I'm late posting today because I've only just returned from a very fast trip to St. Louis.
I flew out Sunday night to attend a Waldenbooks regional bookseller meeting as a guest author and caught a plane back early early this morning. There were probably twenty authors attending the after dinner book signing, a mixed group of genres from romance, sci fi and fantasy, mystery, Christian market, and women's fiction. There aren't many opportunities for an author to meet 120 booksellers so this was a fabulous opportunity and red eye flights and sleepy cab rides are a small price to pay for such excellent exposure. I know this. However, and this is where I sound crabby, I'm struggling lately with the publishing industry small talk.

Maybe it's fatigue, maybe it's just being away from my kids too much, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to talk about "being a writer." I don't know what being a writer means. I don't feel like anything but a mom lately and as such, Halloween costumes and being invited to so-and-so's birthday party is far more pressing than well, sharing with taxi drivers at 3:30 in the morning on how I became a published author.

Lots of people assume once you sell your first book, you've got your foot in the door and now have it made. Unfortunately, writing--even for multi-published authors--is often difficult and demanding and I don't think there's an easy way to sell. Not the first time, and not the twentieth time. Why? Because quite frankly, I don't think there's an easy way to write. There is just the sit down and do it until you scream--I mean, succeed--method, which is how most of my friends eventually sold. And continue to sell. People ask me all the time. "How did you sell?" Well, you write, and edit, and rewrite and edit again until you're ready to submit, only to be rejected and left to your own devices to figure out what's wrong and how to improve. And then you write and edit some more and this goes on and on and on, sometimes for years. In my case, fifteen years.

But telling this to a taxi driver at 3:30 in the morning when I've only had 3 hours sleep and no coffee is nothing short of painful this morning. But the driver keeps asking questions and I keep (reluctantly) answering when all I want to do is close my eyes and get another twenty minutes of sleep. But I do not sleep. I talk to him. I answer his questions. After all, I am a guest in the back of his car. And I'd very much like to get to the airport to catch my flight home. So I try my best to explain the intricacies of the publishing world, and how one submits a manuscript, and how one gets an agent, and what makes an agent good, and finally, after much painful sharing, I ask him, "so what do you write?"

"Oh, no, I don't write," my good taxi driver answers. "It's been a long night. I'm just bored."

He's just bored? I'm just exhausted. And all I can think is, where is Starbucks? Where is my bottle of advil? Where is the airport?

Please God, get me on my plane. I just want to go home.

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