Monday, April 19, 2010

And it came to me all in a feeling how everything fitted together...

I tend to think of things collectively, you know. Whole periods of time sort of rapidly smoosh into one big moment for me. This is why I kept a diary as a small girl and partially why three and half years ago I started to blog. Even though I don't write down everything that happens (thank God, right?), I find that my memories are triggered by the small pieces that I do choose to memorialize. Sometimes I read something I wrote two years ago and I immediately and clearly remember what was really going on that day. What I decided not to say.

This weekend I went to Kentucky to the SOKY Book Fest. It was pretty amazing.

It was amazing for all the reasons I didn't expect it to be amazing, though. I thought it would be amazing to sell a lot of books and maybe pick up a few more blog readers or friends on The Facebook (Mitch and Marsha...HOLLA!). I thought it would be super cool to see my cousin (it was). I thought maybe I'd attend some workshops and maybe, just maybe, learn something.

On Saturday night I had the pleasure of having dinner with my wonderful cousin (who came all the way from Michigan to Kentucky by way of the "worst road trip of all time"), my friend Lauretta Hannon and two new author friends Jessica Handler and Amanda Gable. I am uncool enough to admit in a public forum that the thought of having dinner with them scared me. Badly. Not badly enough to say no, but still. Badly.

Because they are writers. And I, one year, two months, and seventeen days into having a book, still feel like a fraud.

For me, writing a book has been a profoundly isolating experience. It sounds lame to say "people just don't understand", but honestly? People just don't understand. It doesn't mean they aren't sympathetic or kind. Most of them are. But honestly, it's one of those situations that you can't really understand unless you've been there. Unless you've lived it.

I've been living it. And despite the fact that I go and glad-hand people on a regular basis about it, it's not the most comfortable thing in the world to me. I'm not a major author, even in Bowling Green, Kentucky (and I mean no offense to the city of Bowling Green or the State of Kentucky and it's citizens, all of which are extraordinarily lovely). I am a regular person, with a day job, not an author.

I'm just a girl with a book.

Sitting at that table on Saturday night, however, I felt less alone. Not just because the other ladies write. Because we talked about what to write next, and how we struggle with what you do after the first book. How we don't quite know what to charge for giving talks and whether or not you take every single public event you are offered, even if it's talking to a class of third graders in Savannah. How certain events really blow and how authors sometimes get treated like pretty, pretty Princesses and sometimes like scum on the bottoms of shoes. How very sucky it feels to get a bad review, no matter where it comes from (but especially when it's a family member).

I didn't know other people felt this same way. I didn't know I wasn't the only person alive who has struggled with this. I assumed, stupidly, that amazing writers like these women would never have the same issues as a small-time girl like me. I assumed I was the only one wondering if I was doing the right things. If I should be working on the next book instead of shaking hands and wishing I sold more books. That even the most amazing writers have moments of "what next?" and it's totally okay that I do too.

It was the most comforting experience. It was really, really lovely.

And they were friggin' hilarious. So there was that.

Overall? A most satisfying experience. I came home completely refreshed and now all I want to do is write. And that, friends, is a beautiful thing. Even if my writing isn't.


diane rene said...

so glad to hear the trip was refreshing to both you and your muse ;0) happy writing!!

Bexterrific said...

I had such a blast! Thank you so much for letting me tag along and for being so awesome! I won't even make you pay me royalties for the big purse - although I will make you get in mine!!!! xoxoxoxo

elle said...

Two. Thumbs. Up.

crystal said...

I attended your workshop at the Kentucky Writers Conference this past weekend and I just wanted to tell you how much I loved your presentation! Don't tell the others, but it was the most fun presentation of the day. Thank you for visiting Bowling Green and being so nice/funny/awesome!
Also, I'm going to start stalking your blog now. I hope that's okay. :)

Angela said...


I loved "Pulling Your Pants Down in Traffic" at the SoKy Bookfest. You were hilarious, yet down to earth. As a mom, I have to bow down to any woman who has a family (not to mention a job and blog to boot), who makes writing a priority in her life. What else can save our sanity, right ;)

I'm thrilled you found sister-souls who've not only walked in your shoes, but who inspired you. I hope you know how much your willingness to share your journey inspired us.