Monday, January 2, 2012
Dear Reporter: How Do They Do What They Do?
It was a dark and stormy night...
A knock at the door interrupted. He lifted his hands from the Royal typewriter and looked to the frosted glass of his office door.
The door opened tentatively, blonde perfectly coiffed hair, sweet face peering in. Her lips the color of a ruby, manicured fingernails to match wrapped around the edge of the door. She questioned, "Mister Butler?"
"You got me doll." He leaned back in the oak swivel chair propping wing tipped shoes onto the desk. "You the author?"
"Come in. Make yourself comfortable." He swung his feet to the floor and rose half way to meet her, arm lifted in welcome.
She drifted in on a cloud of, what was it—cinnamon? creme brulee? She lowered her perfect heart shaped derriere into the tack button wingchair diagonal to his desk.
He dropped slowly back to his seat, eyes glued to the mint cambresine linen that hugged her curves like cling film.
"So Miss, uh..." damn if her name hadn't exited his brain along with his tact.
"London." She folded her hands in her lap. "Like the town."
"Bit more of a city isn't it?" He cringed. Brilliant.
She cleared her throat and smiled. Lord there was a God.
He tried to swallow the wad of cotton that wedged in his throat when she graced him with that life altering smile. "Christine." He forced his eyes to the desk, snagging steno pad and pencil.
"So...tell me." He prayed the blood would stop pounding in his ears. "What sacrifices, struggles, hardships, uh... negativity have you endured along your path to publication, you know...as an author?" Beads of sweat popped to his hairline and he sat like some sixth form boy in the headmaster's office.
She chuckled. "How long have you got?"
* * * *
Fast forward to reality.
99.9999% of authors are not celebrity or any closer to it than a gal waiting for the clerk to scan her copy of the Hollywood Intruder at check out.
We are ordinary folk that, for the most part, have day jobs, houses with big mortgages, apartments with rent to pay, kids to feed, and the million and one distractions common in the new age. The thing that makes us, well...'different', is that we have this little problem. We are drawn to putting words to page like addict to heroine. We can't NOT write. It's like the blood in our veins and the air we breathe.
Left for too many days without pen, paper or computer, we begin to shake, or at least become irritable— because we hear voices. Yes--our characters are in our heads clamoring to get out. Sometimes softly at first, but they have a story to tell and darn it, they will hound us until they tell it. Even if the telling is not always...easy?
'What sacrifices, struggles, hardships, negativity have I endured and how do I overcome?'
Since the first story flooded my mind one warm July day in 2005, I have spent every available free minute either thinking about, reading for, attending workshops, conventions, signings, panels and tapping away on the keyboard—all in support of this new skill I've unearthed. I think I always knew I could write. I wrote newsletters weekly as a kindergarten teacher, keeping parents abreast of their little darlin's. Won accolades for them. But never in my wildest dreams had I a notion of writing fiction. Fiction was something they required you to read in college Lit class, not something that real flesh and blood people actually did.
When lightning struck and I knew I had to write this story about a lonely mega star and an unlikely fan that saves him from himself. I typed into the wee hours for days, weeks, months. People began to wonder if I'd acquired some terminal disease that kept me isolated from the real world---certainly from them.
Three months later I had a 100,000 word manuscript ready to go...NOT! What did I know about writing fiction and what now? Google to the rescue. What was this story anyways? Man meets woman with lotsa complications but love prevails? Ahh...a romance. Never read one. Bet they are cool. This one sure was.(is)
Off to RWA I went. Romance Writers Of America saved my behind. At their monthly meetings and through the online discussion loop I learned the craft of riveting fiction. I read craft and publishing business 101 books. I rewrote. I wrote another book while doing so. An erotic romance (how fun!) Yeah...I can do that, I thought, after listening to a recording from the national RWA conference about writing a sexy novella. Sure, no prob.
Even had a blast producing a book cover for it with my webmistress and her professional photographer hubby.
Submissions? Learned how to do that to, and to whom and what to say. Zap. Fifteen months after first keystroke, untold rejections and challenges, sleepless nights, dreams of the dreamer, I was a contracted author.
I cried when I opened that email. They wanted me...my work. Two percent of manuscripts that cross a publishers desk are requested to see more. Less than that are contracted. People write for years and never sell. I'd made it.
NOT. The 'fun' had just begun. Authors are not only NOT celebrities with pursuant personal assistants and publicists. They are now required to do the lion's share of their promotions, build a platform, name recognition, a readership—with no budget. Thing is--not even professional marketers know what is going to work in that regard. So we neophyte authors climb Mount Learning Curve and do whatever it takes to get to know our audience. We the mighty, the few, the proud, the brave--we sail the waters of authordom aboard the good ship Crowded. Crowded is a place of many, many such aspiring superstar authors all vying for reader attention.
And so we continue learning the ropes of marketing, promotions, social media, websites, blogs, loops, panels, signings ,riveting fiction, perfect word counts, perfect prose. In all the hustle and bustle of daily life, we fit in writing and promotions. Five minutes in the dentist's waiting room, ten minutes at coffee break, an hour before anyone is awake--even the sun, deep into the night. We write, we promote, we socialize, we network and if we are extraordinarily blessed we receive kudos from a reviewer or two--luckier if we receive an email or note from a reader. Oh my goodness.
To touch the life of a reader. To make a difference. To uplift, inspire, educate and entertain. That is akin to touching the face of God. Legacy and end of days. We, our words, the heart and soul behind our words shall live into the future. A future we can not imagine, eyes yet unborn, minds that may marvel at the world we saw through the vehicle of our words. The world they now share with us and potential untold readers. The magic of the imagination. Unlimited possibilities.
Why do I write. Why do I breathe? Why do I hope and love and dream? I want to touch the face of God.