Wednesday, February 11, 2009
So you're an author, huh?
Dear readers, I'm excited to announce that author Kelly Simmons (Standing Still) has graciously offered to write a guest post for New Dork Times. She's also giving away one autographed copy of her book to the person whose comment makes her laugh, intrigues her, or just plain catches her eye. Please leave a comment by Feb. 16, 4:30 p.m. central to be entered into the giveaway. Read on!
So You’re An Author, huh?
“Is this your first book?”
It’s the first question everyone asks, at every book club, every cocktail party, every casual conversation I have with another mom on the soccer field or volleyball court, as soon as one of my friends tell them I’m a writer and have they read my fabulous book, Standing Still? (Thank God for my chatty outgoing friends. If they worked in Hollywood I’d have that elusive movie deal wrapped up already.)
And it’s a simple question on the face of it, and yet, not an easy question for me to answer. Because while it is my first published book, it also occupies other numbers. The 8th novel I’ve written. The 5th novel that agents have evaluated. The 4th novel that made the rounds of editors, represented by my 3rd agent. The novel that came out after more than 15 years of writing and 3 years of editing.
These numbers are fascinating to some, and absolutely soul-crushing to others, so I have to be careful how I wield them. In a classroom full of MFA candidates, or a library full of would-be memoirists, or a book club filled with “Ihaveabookinme” types, these numbers scare the crap out of people. They’re dispiriting, discouraging, and well, kinda make me look like a loser. (When you spend 15 years doing something with no success, after all, what is the freaking universe telling you?)
Every so often, there is a brave follow-up question: What made you go on, in the face of so much rejection? I suspect people expect me to claim faith in a higher power, or a driving need to feed my family (remember JK Rowling in the coffee shop and her utilities turned off?). Or perhaps, they crave a more literary motivation: I promised my mother on her deathbed that I wouldn’t stop writing. My older brother is a rocket scientist and I have to prove that I’m smart too.
But the answer is smaller, and subtler: I knew I was a good writer. And while getting rejected was a bummer, writing gave me a simple pleasure, like planting bulbs or knitting a sweater. For many years, it has been my garden. And not everyone likes everything I plant. But I get to look at it, and enjoy it, everyday.
And that’s not for nothing, y’know?
Kelly Simmons, a former journalist and advertising creative director, is the author of Standing Still, in paperback February 10, and coming soon, The Bird House. She visits as many book clubs as she can (here’s a great article in The Philadelphia Inquirer about her visiting clubs:
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/36618199.html). And she’s now offering an exclusive Book Group DVD to those she can’t. For more information, see her website: http://www.bykellysimmons.com/, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.