Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm an Author

My first royalty check from Amazon arrived yesterday. Granted it won't buy that Caribbean cruise that my husband sings about when he sees me writing, his way of encouraging me to write that blockbuster that will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams.  I keep telling him that's unrealistic, but I appreciate his faith in me. About the only thing I could buy with this check is dinner for two at McDonald's, but then that's not the point, which is that people actually paid money to read what I wrote.

I'm very grateful to the friends and relatives who put out their hard earned cash, some of whom had already read it for free.

I love to read.  I never thought I could actually write a book. Unlike a lot of writers who have felt compelled to write their whole lives, I took up writing later in life as a hobby. I don't do handicrafts because I suck at all of them. Even after extensive instruction, my finished product always looked like a kindergarten project and did nothing for my ego. My mother has a beautiful voice and paints. Sadly she refused to pass any of those talents on to me.  She also kept the boobs and gave me a big butt, but that's another story.

Having failed at all the regular hobbies, I decided to try writing.  Why not? it couldn't be any worse than the sweater I tried knit. To my surprise, I enjoyed the process and finished a book. Even more astonishing to me, people outside my immediate family asked to read it and when finished said they couldn't wait for the sequel.

While my writing may never lead to an interview on the Today Show, I'm proud of what I've written and to be able to say, "I sold a book!"

Friday, August 19, 2011

Love and Marriage

Most of us get married somewhere in our twenty's when we don't have enough experience to pick a career let alone a lifetime companion. We aren't even fully formed ourselves. In my twenty's I didn't know a thing about love.  My parents adored each other and I assumed that's all it took. You fell in love, got married and the happily ever after thing just happened. Somehow your heart would simply pick out the right person.

Obviously, that's not true.  So how in the world did I manage at twenty to pick the perfect man for me? I can look back and know it wasn't a decision based on logic. I'm impulsive and Al's idea of acting on impulse is having less than two days to prepare. In high school I dreaded sitting through history. He loved it. I don't carry cash because I can't hold on to it.  Al panics when our checking account slips below his comfort zone. (It's a good thing I kept the checkbook during the lean years when a good month meant I had enough money left to buy milk and bread the week before pay day.) I'm an optimist, always sure everything will turn out perfectly.  Al plans for the worst. We don't watch the same TV shows and we're not even the same religion. Yet somehow we compliment each other and it works.

We've been married forever, or at least longer than we were single, and every day with him is better than yesterday. Best of all, he makes me feel loved and wanted and even at times beautiful. Trust me, that's a challenge. I have a heartless mirror that shows me every every extra pound and wrinkle. Not that we haven't had our problems.  You can't be that different and expect not to argue, sometimes at the top of our lungs. Actually I'm the only one who yells. Al just walks away until he calms down.  I used to resent it, wanting to fight it out and then kiss and make up. Now I appreciate the control it takes to walk away when you're that angry, rather than lash out and hurt someone with words or actions that no amount of kissing can erase.

In the beginning love meant physical attraction, wanting to spend time together and having fun, now it means being terrified of having to live even one day without him. My mother once told me the most important thing in a marriage was respect.  She said love comes and goes, but if you have respect you'll always have something to build on. She's a smart woman.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Trash or Treasure

I saw an advertisement for a ghostwriter for several erotica stories.  What?  He can't write his own sex scenes? If I understand it correctly, erotica is all about graphic sex and not much else.  So if this guy needs a ghost writer who is willing to write the sex part, what exactly is he writing?

I admit I don't understand the erotica thing anyway.  Heaven know it sells, but then there's always been a good market for pornography. What I don't get is why a professional writer would consider turning out this trash. Money, of course, probably a great deal of it. However, the fact that most of these writers use a pen name rather than their real name tells me how proud they are of their work.  It's not like it requires a large vocabulary and I doubt the reader cares about whether you've used the correct syntax, as long as you've thrown vulgarity and swear words in every other sentence, and what they read makes them doubt the quality of their own love life. It's not hard to appeal to our baser instincts.

So much of what we read, see on TV, and listen to on the radio is about sex. Not love, not finding someone to share your life with, just sex.  A very popular song with teenagers today is about drinking too much, dancing on tables, skinny dipping and then having sex with people they don't know, and doing it again every Friday night while making it all sound like great fun. No mention of the possibility of AIDS, STD, or even pregnancy and a hundred other possibilities. TV programs and movies have people ripping each other's clothes off after the first date.  That's lust, not love and not the basis of a lasting relationship.

Then I watched the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables.  What a wonderful story about love and sacrifice, no swear words or sex scenes.  In fact, the most moving part is about the unselfish love of a father for his adopted daughter.  To say the music is incredible would be an understatement.  It fills you with joy and a desire to be a better person. To me, that's what literature, music, and art should do.

I have no illusions about my ability to write a classic, but I want to be proud of what I do write, stories where good prevails over evil, and the reader comes away feeling good about themselves and life in general.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Story's the Thing

I've been reading all about the rules a writer needs to follow in order to get published.  While I don't doubt that these things are important, without a great story and interesting characters, none of it will matter. 

Writing is a form of creation and shouldn't be stifled by rules. When I dither over the perfect sentence, I sometimes lose the excitement of allowing my imagination to soar. I've discovered that getting the plot down on paper while it's still fresh in my mind is more important than worrying about whether I've used active verbs, avoided adverbs, or even written in complete sentences. All that can be fixed in editing. Is the story so compelling that the reader must find out what happens next?  Are my characters interesting?  Most important how do I feel about what I've written?  It's my creation and whether an agent or publisher thinks it's worthy of publication shouldn't negate the satisfaction I feel when I read it.