A few days ago the Da Capo catalog arrived with my two-page spread, my author photo, a description of my book and a short bio and staring at it, I felt… weird. Not bad weird. Just weird. Weird that the way I imagined seeing my name and my picture in print, the “reality” of what I’d dreamed and hoped for and wanted for so long that at times I was certain might never happen, didn’t feel the way I thought it would feel. At all. I mean I was happy and I thought, Wow this looks really good but it didn’t change my world dramatically. I was on my computer, in my running clothes, my hair in a baseball cap, in the middle of revising an article due next week and discussing more cover ideas with my editor and thinking about revisions I was going to have to make for my new book proposal and the dogs needed to go out…
And I thought back to when I first wanted to write because words and books moved me, made me feel less lonely with my thoughts and when I was brave enough to put my own words on the page, I thought, It’s all about the writing. Then at some point I wanted an audience larger than myself and my writers’ group and I thought, It’s all about getting an agent. And then after I landed my first agent and she didn’t sell my book, I thought, It’s all about getting the right agent. And then after getting the right agent and he did sell my book I thought, It’s all about getting the book contract. But after that I had to finish writing the book and I thought, It’s all about writing the best damn book I can. But after that was done I thought, It’s all about promoting the book.
And then last weekend in Chicago at the Pilcrow List Fest, my first time out in public promoting my book and as soon as I sat on the panel with all the other writers and the conversation started, I realized we were all just writers discussing writing, our love of words and it all came back to what I originally thought. It’s all about the writing. All about my insatiable desire to express something and then something else again.
And while I know the “reality” is that it’s hard to stand out and make it in the publishing world and I know I have to do everything in my power to promote my book, the reason I’ve stuck it out this long in this writing business is because I believe in the power of words to move and heal people, to make a difference in the world.
And for now that’s the “reality” I’m trying to hold on to.
8 Replies to “What is this Business Really About? by Deb Gail”
Oooh, very nice, Gail. I can really relate to all of this–all the moments you hope for, then next thing you “need”–none of it matters without the writing itself. I keep having to drag myself back to that because otherwise this business will make me crazy!
It’s so hard to hang on to that once you get swept up in the “business” but today I’m heading out to my hut where it’s just me and the words…
I found it so strange how the world just kept moving on like normal when my book came out. I had been waiting for so long I was certain that it would somehow be a much bigger deal. However, there is still nothing to compare with knowing your words have made it out into the world. I can’t wait for your book!
This is why I admire and respect you, Gail, — as well as most writers. It has been and always will be all about the writing except now you’re expected to do too much. Nevertheless, the writer who remembers that first love and shares it with her/his readers will enjoy self-fulfillment and more! Because, trust me, those feelings come through in between the lines.
Eileen, I still can’t imagine seeing my actual book in print, but I can imagine the dogs will still need to go out…
Thanks for saying that Larramie. You made my day…
Gail, we are on the same wavelength on this one! Ultimately, we write to communicate, to purge, to connect, to affect, to channel…writing is SO different from the publishing side of things. Excellent post.
Pretty post, Gail.
Amy!! Thanks for stopping by! I meant every word about Pilcrow. Really took me back to my writing roots.
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