This past week I went to the school book fair with my sons. I always do and I always spend more money than I should because I love any opportunity I have to encourage my kids’ love of reading. But this time my usual excitement took a terrible turn.
You see, I’ve had a bad few months now in the writing department. My life has greatly impeded my writing, and when I’m really honest with myself, I’ve impeded it too. When I first began pursuing a writing career it was quite serendipitous, and I was extremely positive. For a novice writer things just fell into place very quickly.
I began writing seriously in late ’08. I’d given birth to my third (and final) child in August and had slipped into a deep depression. I had my usual postpartum but what added to it was that I knew my acting career was essentially over. Raising three children is not conducive to the rehearsal schedule of stage actors. So I was done. My creative outlet was a thing of the past.
It was during this time that a series of “coincidences” led me back to writing; something I had done all my life but had never considered seriously as a career. But a great idea had popped in my head and I’d just started writing and writing. I would stay up until 3:00am without even realizing it. I queried my novel and an up-and-coming associate agent with a major agency requested a full. She didn’t immediately sign me but gave me feedback and had an in-house reader give me a 4 page letter outlining revision suggestions. All was good and I worked and worked on the revision the best I could around the demands of my life. I eventually got it back to her and the waiting game began.
During the wait I took the opportunity to meet her at a conference and was lucky enough to meet another agent who was, in actuality, the #1 person on the “Dream Agent” list I’d composed when I first began the query process. She and I clicked but I couldn’t pitch to her until after I got a response from the original agent. Eventually the original agent declined the book I revised to her suggestions. “Dream Agent” requested it immediately and off it went. She read it in a weekend and although she liked parts of it she said it reads like a first novel that has been revised to death…hmmm, I wonder why? She does, however, LOVE the first chapter of my second (steampunk) novel and wants a full as soon as it’s finished. Anyway, enough of the backstory, information dump.
So I’m at the book fair in the school where I have talked about writing on more than one career day. I’m surrounded by books of all genres. Each one of these authors successfully queried an agent and landed a publishing deal. Each one of theses authors was more successful (better) than me. So each bold, glossy title I saw was taking a small kick at my shins.
Then I come across a middle grade steampunk book that packs a much larger kick to my tibia. Original agent told me it was a “false trend” so I had delayed the writing of my second book. I’m still behind on it and the new agent is waiting because steampunk is, in fact, a growing trend. This is a big reminder of how I am continuing to fail at my craft. My irritation grows.
I try to keep my composure as I turn to the next display where I find a graphic novel that makes me feel like I’ve been clothes-lined. I pick it up and realize it is almost the exact same as the amazing idea I’ve been tossing around for my third book. My irritation has produced buds of anger and is starting to pull other irritants to my present thoughts. I remember a brief interview on a morning show of one of the ‘Dancing with the Stars” girls about her brand new book that had no problem being published because she happens to be a good dancer. That makes me think about all these little ass-hats that signed up for a reality show and magically got book deals. And I’m sure they’re all just amazing writers (insert sarcasm font).
Then the last thought–the last gut-punch thought- surfaces. It’s about an article I read the week before in a Dallas hotel magazine about the new TV show “GCB” based on the book Good Christian Bitches. This article is an interview with the “author” of the book who happens to be a Dallas socialite with plenty of
connections money. She openly admits that she used a ghost writer, which I give her credit for at least admitting to, but she goes on to explain that she gave the GW her therapy journals to put in sequence and that at least 50 manuscripts went back and forth between them. (This means ghost writer would write the pages and she would make notes about what she liked and didn’t.) She also says, “The writer was mainly there to help with structure, form and grammar.” Uh…isn’t that what writing a !#$%^ novel is about?!?!?! The ghost writer WROTE your book!!! Not you!! She goes on to justify all of this with, “Everyone who has read the book says they can really hear my voice in it.” Would you like to know why, Kim? Because the ghost writer is a GOOD writer. The ghost writer should have their name on the cover of that book and should be getting half of that sweet-ass TV deal.
And what really gets my goat is that all of the articles start with “An interview with Dallas AUTHOR, Kim Gatlin.” She gets to call herself an author and the reality, dancing, Jersey, real-housewives get to call themselves “Authors,” but I don’t, even though I have toiled and cried and bled and studied and written (by myself) more than one !#$%* book ….ARGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And that was it. I couldn’t take one more ounce of it. It was like I was Bruce Banner and I’d just taken the last nut-shot I could handle. I could practically feel my purple pants ripping and eyes bulging as I fought off the intense primal desire I had to flip over all the tables at the book fair while screaming “Me Hulk smash stupid fake authors!!”
So, what did I do with all of that gamma-ray-enhanced anger? I went home with the sack of books I bought for my kids, sat down with a bowl full of carbs, and wrote this. But the cool thing is- I wrote it. The punctuation sucks and I could edit it better, but I wrote every single word; and when my books emerge, I will have written them too. Just me. And I may not have the TV deal, interviews, or fat royalty checks rolling in right now, but they’re coming; and in the mean time, I’m claiming the title that I deserve more than anyone of those yahoos who used ghost writers. So let me introduce myself, I’m Ash Robbins- AUTHOR.
**So there you have it, an ugly but honest peek into my emotional meltdown. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not going to hide it either. Some people are probably whispering “jealous” and that’s ok. I am a little, but I’m using it as motivation.
If you happen to be a writer that is hesitant to use that title or “author”, stop it
write right now. No more self-doubt. Claim and wear it proudly. And even though I am horrified that she will possibly read this mess of a blog, I’m posting a link to a fabulous piece on the subject by Kristen Lamb. Read it and everything else she has to offer (or you might make me angry, and you won’t like it when I’m angry). http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/dont-eat-the-butt-lies-that-can-poison-our-writing-career-1/
If you’ve had shameful moments of frustration or self-doubt, share it here. We can commiserate together as we continue down the publishing path.