I was reluctant to share the fact that I was writing a book. Though many of my friends have been a lot more encouraging than I thought they’d be. Thank God for those generous souls. There were others that reacted in less than pleasant ways, though, downright discouraging ways, in fact. There’s the trying-not-to-laugh sideways glance, like your friend or family member thinks you couldn’t write yourself out of a paper bag, great confidence builder that one. Theres the who do you think you are and how could you ever say anything that would be of interest to anyone comments, also real ego boosters. But what I love the most are the comments by folks who want to stress how much better they’d be at such a feat than you
I didn’t let any of it stop me. I had a story that I just couldn’t help writing down. It took me two years but I finally finished it last month. I’m proud of it. I can hardly believe that I accomplished the writing of an entire novel. Better still, a couple of people have read it and said the same complimentary things about the story.
So, emboldened by the good opinion of others, I’ve been submitting my work to agents. And getting absolutely nowhere.
It turns out that I knew nothing about the publishing industry. There are trends in writing style. Plus, a writer has to pay attention to their word count. They have to know their genre and markets that accept their type of work. Authors to be have to be able to sum up a three hundred page novel in two paragraphs or less and then again in two sentences or less.
I don’t know how long it’ll take me to learn everything including how to revise or indeed how long the revising itself will take once I learn, but I am committed now. Besides, what I lack in confidence, I make up for with a solid work ethic and an almost crippling fear of being laughed at about this for the rest of my life. I’m going to do everything it takes for as long as I have breath in my body or until I’ve worn down someone into publishing this book, whichever falters first.
My most immediate problem is my mom. She has told everyone that I wrote a book and I’m going to get it published. I must confess that most of the you-couldn’t-possibly-write-a-whole-book-I know-you’ll-give-up, smiling, sideways glancers have taken to congratulating me instead of sneering. Some of the you-could-never-come-up-with-something-interesting-to-say folks have also been silenced, but there are still enough comments and advice to humiliate or upset me whenever I go anywhere I might find someone my mom knows. Sadly this is a small town, and Mom is the mayor.
For this reason, I find myself turning down most invitations. One can’t refuse to attend their own sister’s wedding, however, and that’s why today I stood by a sumptuous buffet table in embarrassingly tight pink satin, through which I could see the too large indent of my bellybutton. Undoubtably this was inviting a multitude of people to think I don’t need anything more to eat. Oh, and I apparently had a bullseye drawn on my forehead that people who have something humiliating to say about my writing could see even better than the fat shamers could.
First my Uncle Elden steps between me and the adorable college friend of my new brother-in-law who’s in the line in front of me. “Jane! Your mother tells me you’re about to have a book published.”
Adorable college friend looks interested, but I have to say, “No, Uncle Elden. remember, I wrote the book, but I haven’t found a publisher for it yet. I can’t even get an agent to represent me so far.”
“What do you need an agent for? Just quit being lazy and get it done.”
“I really want to get it published traditionally if I can.”
“So get it done. You can’t do odd jobs your whole life.”
“I wouldn’t call being a nurse an odd job. I’m starting to get a sneaking suspicion that it’s always going to pay better than the writing.”
Elden grumbles something else about lazy kids of today and goes on. By this time, the hot guy is gone. I abandon the buffet and get myself a cosmo instead. I look around for him, taking a nice gulp of liquid courage and trying to forget about how everyone can see my bellybutton indent.
I’m lowering the cosmo and trying to convince myself that maybe cute guy will be into a huge belly button indent–who knows–when my obnoxious cousin Clint knocks the rest of my drink down the front of my maid of honor dress. “Smooth, Clint.”
He ignores the fact that he spilled my drink down me, obviously eager to get something off his chest. “You’re mom says you’re getting your first book published.”
He laughs. “I told my mom she was lying. What the hell do you know about writing? Weren’t you like a biology major?”
“You still doing the graveyard shift at the Quickie Mart?”
“Yeah, why do you want to know?”
“Excuse me a minute. I need some napkins and a new drink.”
I head back to the bar and miracle of miracles the good looking guy joins me. What’s more, he starts to flirt. It’s going great for about twenty minutes. Then he says, “So, you wrote a book?”
“Yeah, it took me about two years and now I’m having to do some serious revisions.”
He smiles broadly and I think he’s going to say something nice about my achievement, but he says, “I’ve often thought about writing a book too. I figure I could knock one out in a couple months.”
I look for some sign that he’s joking and realize he isn’t.
He goes on about his talent and his great ideas.
I nod and smile politely, but what I’m really thinking is: Ha, if you try it might be x number of years if ever. Hope you’ve read a lot. Your story would have to be original and interesting. It would have to be as tight as the lid on an old jar of jelly in Grammy’s pantry, plausible, with no plot holes. You’d have to create characters who seem like they could step off the page too. There has to be tension and suspense to prevent boring your reader during the setup of more tension and suspense. Goodness forbid there should be weird POV shifts, passive voice, improper use of dialog tags or anything that might confuse the reader. Gosh, the list goes on. Do you plan to quit your day job? Wait. Maybe you’re some kind of book writing mage.
When he's done talking, I say, “Yeah, you should give it a try. No guts no glory, babe. Take that first completed draft over to your local critique group. Better yet, query some agents. See what happens. Then get back to me on that. I want to take you out to celebrate your first book signing. Can’t wait.”
If he is a book writing mage, I want to be his best girl.