Sunday, October 27, 2013

Author Aggravations

I recently stumbled across one author’s list of things never to say to an author. I pored through it, nodding my head vigorously at some of her points and shaking my head at others.
Sabhu: "Really, Mom, could my metaphor about thinking
outside the box be any more obvious?"
Most of all, though, I wondered if peeps really do say these things to authors. People honestly voice such gems as “Anyone can write a book, [sic] what else do you do?”?! If so, that’s pretty horrifying, and it help explains the author’s grumpy tone.

I guess I’m lucky, because when it comes to discussing my less lucrative and more creative second job, the folks in my life ooze nothing but support and encouragement. Maybe it’s because everyone knows I do have a bill-paying job, or perhaps it’s because I don’t share my authorliness with tons of people (After all, how else can it remain my secret identity?). Whatever the reason, I can’t bring to mind one person who has sneered at my secondary vocation per se.

All that said, I do have my own list of author aggravations that I feel all-too-eager to share with y’all. Now, I don’t want to toss out this discussion as a list of things never to say to an author, since I don’t like putting gags on folks’ rights to express themselves. Naw. I like to think of this list less as an order to those lucky enough to know my authorly self and more as a shameless and public opportunity to vent. I mean, why else does the Internet exist, amiright?

1. “You’re an author? Cool! I have a screenplay/short story/novel I’d love for you to read!”

This one happens a lot. I like to think the person is all “You’re an author? Me, too. Let’s bond over our literary pursuits!” rather than trying to perform their version of A Real Author or asking me to donate my editing skills (see below). I’m a busy person, though, working two jobs with erratic hours and giggle-worthy pay. I have precious little free time.

Maybe we could grab a coconut-milk latte instead?

2.  This is a variation on number one. “I know you’re so good at editing. Would you be willing to edit my blog post/novel/resume/memoir?”

Payment for my services can begin right here.
This is endemic in any job that requires a highly specialized skill set. And yes, my friends, writing well requires a lot of study, practice, and upkeep. My partner, who used to do computery things, got used to random texts from everyone asking for free computer advice and repair. Although I’m an author, not an editor, editing has become my version of computery things. I’m not saying I hate helping out my friends, and I’m pretty free and easy with my red pen o’ doom. Still, when I think about how much money I could be earning, – correction: when I think that I could be earning any money for these services, because I doubt editors make bank – I sometimes cry myself to sleep.

And btw, editors who may read this, I don’t want to pretend I’m A Real Editor (see number one). I think I’m pretty darn decent at editing, or at least at recognizing mechanical errors, but I’m no professional. Heck, if editing qualifies as greatness, greatness has been thrust upon me by others.

3. “I have an awesome idea for a book! It’s sorta autobiographical…”

So, you want me to be a free ghostwriter of the story of you? Uh, I think I might be busy washing my hair.

Also, I write paranormal romance, so unless you’re a weregiraffe who recently fell in love with a Frankenbeast from whose neck sprouts the head of Walt Disney, we’re probably not a winning match.  

4. “Oh!” *eyes start glassing* “You write romance? That’s… cool.”

I admit, there is a part of me that wants to respond with something like, “You know, it’s unfortunate that we devalue romance because it’s a feminine genre. It’s actually quite lucrative [for someones not me, but whatever] to tell stories that put feelings at the center and the action as a satellite.” Who am I kidding? I do say this. However, I also fantasize about yelling, “It’s the bestselling genre out there, hypocritical muthaf*ckas!” I’d never really do it, but  oh, the fantasy.

5. “How cool to be paid for doing something you love.”

Aw, who needs it, anyway? I'm trying to cut down on clutter.
Ha! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

But seriously, this is a kind statement, and I thank anyone who values what I do and recognizes the emotional satisfaction that comes from being an artist. The funny part is the notion that most of us get paid. Ha ha ha!

My last royalties check bought my partner and me lunch. At TGI Friday’s. Without sodas.

During my recent, super awesome virtual book tour, one of the bloggers asked me for advice to new writers. My response was immediate: Don’t quit your day job. Unfortunately, fewer people read and more and more books are flooding the market, so the likelihood of becoming the next Charlaine Harris or James Patterson is pretty freakin’ slim. If you don’t write for the love of writing, you’ll come to resent your artistic medium – or perhaps the reading public, which has grown somewhat anemic in recent years. 

4 comments:

  1. I got super annoyed when Bridges of Madison County came out and it was hailed as THE BEST NOVEL EVER. Seriously, had any of those people ever read good romance novels. By actual women? Then came Legends of the Fall...the whole theater around me sniffling at the end, and I seriously just laughed. Again, if it had been called a romance movie and been written by a woman, it would not have been considered great literature. (Getting off the Romance soapbox now.)

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    1. WOOT! I love your soapbox!

      I hated _Legends of the Fall_. But since it portrayed men's relationships with one another via the female protagonist, emotions were okay and it was great art, right?

      Well said, my friend.

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  2. Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes to everything you said, dear Elle.

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    1. Thanks for the validation and the understanding! Hugs, Frannie!

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