Today I am excited to welcome Barbara Davis, Author of Secrets She Carried, to the blog!
7 Embarrassing Truths About Debut Authors
1) One bad review can negate ten great ones.
We are fragile, terrified, thin-skinned individuals. It comes with the territory. We know going in that not everyone will see our genius, that our lofty prose and clever plots may not be to everyone’s taste, and yet, when they come, these crushing reviews, we are blindsided. Suddenly, all the glowing reviews of our “firstborn” are snuffed, descriptors such as lyrical, heartwarming, delicious, and well-plotted, are forgotten in a single, soul-defeating instant. We mope and pout, wishing fervently for a chance to convince this terribly misguided reader that our work is actually quite brilliant. We can’t, of course, and so we keep on writing.
2) We are always watching… and listening.
The writer with the notebook eavesdropping in a park or crowded coffee shop is not just a cliché. On those rare occasions when we emerge from our writing caves to mingle briefly with “real” people, we really do keep an eye out for interesting tidbits of conversation, or quirky mannerisms. Sometimes, especially when we’re stuck, a single, unexpected line can provide the spark for an entire scene. So the next time you’re having a cozy little chat with your girlfriend and you see someone scribbling in a notebook, know that you could end up in someone’s novel. (yeah, that’s going to fester, isn’t it?)
3) We never ever get tired of hearing “I just loved your book!”
Never. Ever. Interrupt us at dinner, the grocery store, anywhere really. Oh, and we always have a Sharpie on hand if you’re looking for an autograph.
4) We’re terrified that we’ve already written our best book.
What if we turn out to be a one hit wonder, the literary equivalent of Flock of Seagulls? (80’s music reference for all you youngsters) The old adage says everyone has at least one book in them. What if this book is all we have in us? What if we never ever come up with another idea? We do of course. And then we start worrying again. What if two books is all we had in us?
5) We spend half our time fantasizing about the day we’ll hit the NYT bestseller list, and the other half worrying that we’ll soon be exposed as the fraud we are.
The dream of writing the Great American Novel, of finding an agent, and then a publisher, of eventually seeing our book on a bookstore shelf is so enormous and outlandish an accomplishment, that we only someone truly brilliant could pull it off, and it’s only a matter of time until that brilliance is recognized by our adoring fans. Then again… the dream of writing the Great American Novel, of finding an agent, and then a publisher, of eventually seeing our book on a bookstore shelf is so enormous and outlandish an accomplishment, that surely we have merely been lucky. We have fooled them all, but soon the reading public will be on to us, bringing us back to earth with a nasty bump. (yes, we really are pathetic masses of insecurity)
6) We secretly dream of landing a movie deal while scoffing at others for even mentioning such a ridiculously high-flown idea.
It always happens. The book comes out. Friends and family coo and gush. And then someone, usually Mom or Aunt Ester, drops the “m-word.” Movie. We shake our heads coyly, wave off the possibility with “It’s my first book. No one gets a movie deal on a first book.” But secretly, in our heart of hearts, we’ve already cast the entire production. We know exactly who will play our svelte and lovely female protagonist in the made for TV movie, who will portray the brooding, sensitive hero on the big screen. We dream about what it will be like to sit on that Hollywood set, in a chair with our names printed on the back, sipping lattes brought to us by adoring staffers while our book comes to life four our clamoring fans. Sigh…
7) We secretly relish the fact that certain members of “the old crowd” think we are gloriously rich now that we’ve been published.
There are so many myths about writers, but one of the biggest is that the instant we get a book deal we become instant millionaires, that we will soon embark on a red-carpet tour where rose petals are thrown at our feel and champagne flows at the mere mention of our names, that Oprah is leaving messages on our phone while we are out looking at beach front properties. Rarely, is any of this true, of course, and I’m usually quick to dispel such fantasies. But there are a select few (you know exactly who I’m talking about) whom we are perfectly happy to leave alone with their delusions.
Okay, so this has been a fun piece to write, and bits of it are true for a lot of debut authors, though certainly not all. But the real truths are these: We love to write, and would do it for free if we had to. (and frequently do) We adore our readers and treasure their feedback. We are profoundly grateful to be living our dreams and following our passion. We are still trying to figure it all out.Barbara Davis, author of The Secrets She Carried/Penguin USA
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