On the Road to Success Do Not Travel Alone
As previously stated in a previous column, "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer", writing can be a very lonely profession. The creative process is, for the most part, a one-on-one experience. Your friends and family wish you success while hoping you’ll find yourself a "real" job. They’ll tell you how your book was read and passed around to every one in town, thinking that they’re giving you praise. And you have to bite your tongue so as not to remind them the term is best "seller", not best "loaner". Then, in their most complimentary tone, they’ll tell you they enjoyed your book so much, they read it in one day. While they were on their exercise bike. And you cringe. The words which took you months to create, sometimes years to perfect, devoured in less than twenty-four hours? You try not to gag, secretly hoping they’ll invite you to Thanksgiving dinner so you can enjoy their hours of preparation in a matter of minutes in front of their television set while watching football.
And of course they will always tell you about the book they’re going to write - someday. So we sit, alone at our keyboard screaming into the silence "NONE OF YOU UNDERSTAND!" Then, looking for sympathy or solace we join a local writer’s club, or as I affectionately call the one that meets at our local Border’s; the Overly-Optimistic Club. Writer wanna-bees who imagine that by breathing the same air as writers, they will somehow become writers. They are so happy to see you, so incredibly awed by your success. Until you ask them to buy a copy of your book. Sorry, they left their wallet home, they tell you. They really don’t have time to read. (So, what are they doing in a bookstore?) But could you please tell them, in five minutes or less, how you got started writing, how you found your agent, how they can do everything you’ve done in half the time and with one quarter the work?
Other authors are worse. I’ve never personally met a published author who went out of their way to help anyone but themselves. I once shared a display table with another author at a book festival. I walked away to buy a drink and when I returned, all my books had been moved to the far corner of the table, while hers were prominently displayed along the entire front of the cubicle. I won’t tell you where her display ended up when she left to go to the bathroom. Let’s just say we won’t be sharing any more table space in the immediate future, twenty years or more would be good.
The Road to Success is difficult enough without these types of people putting up road blocks and sobriety check points along the way. What we need are true friends who will take the wheel when we’re tired. Fellow writers who will give us encouragement, support and motivation when our energy battery is low and the gas tank is nearly empty. Some of the best friends I’ve ever met, are people I’ve never met, here in cyberspace.
Two years ago, a small group of authors from Writers Club Press created a close knit bond of support which continues today. Last May we lost one, and although none of had ever met Tannie R. Meador, we felt the loss as acutely as if we’d all sat around drinking coffee the morning before. Since then, many groups have been formed on-line. In Yahoo egroups, there are many sites for authors, including Amazing Authors Showcase egroup and my own egroup for Print On Demand authors. We write to each other daily with encouragement, support, comfort and motivation. We share in each others success, exchange web rings and links to each other’s web pages. When one hears about a new publishing site, we all hear about it. When one member publishes a new book, everyone rejoices. Worldwide! Other author’s sites designed to promote the lonely writer have sprung up over the past few months. BitBooks, AuthorsDen, JadaProducitions, are only a few of the many opportunities authors now have to meet each other without having to take precious time away from what we do best; write.
But it is also important to remember the Road is also a two-way street. My own web site has an entire page devoted to authors I’ve met. Each cover is displayed with a short description and a link to their own site, or the site their book may be purchased. I’ve written reviews, rated books on BitBooks and printed a full cover brochure which I distribute along with my own promotional material. Authors helping Authors is what we’re all about.
And it is also important to constantly thank those who have been a part of our success. Eighteen months ago I submitted the first three chapters of a short story "The Postman’s Secret Passion" to the AAS web site. Pepper kicked it right back to me, suggesting I work on it a bit longer. Her new magazine looked impressive, and I wanted to be a part of it, so I re-wrote the pages and sent it back. Her comment after informing me I’d won the contest, was that the chapters were a great beginning for another book. I had no intentions of writing another book, but because of her encouragement, the short story "The Postman’s Secret Passion" is now the 425 page novel. "First Class Male". Thank you Pepper. (I think!)
Writing can be a lonely lifestyle and the road to riches can be dark and treacherous. But if you travel with friends you’ll find the going will be a whole lot easier and the success at the end of the road much richer.
U-Turn to The Road To Riches