I bet not a single family member, friend, or even social media contact is unaware that I wrote a book that’s coming out this fall from Portland State University’s Ooligan Press. There’s been plenty of social media hubbub.
My own story as a writer is one of achieving a dream. Mine is a story about trying/failing/trying/failing for many years. Mine is a story about insecurity and luck and self-doubt and education and privilege and a supportive community. Stories are complex. That’s why they’re cool.
Recap for those just emerging from under a rock: I started writing fiction in 2008, quit my job in 2009, completed an MFA in fiction in 2014, pitched my thesis manuscript (about 62,000 words) to Ooligan in 2016, and after heavy revision and editing (new manuscript is about 82,000 words), the published book will emerge into the world on November 7, 2017.
Writing as a creative act is exhilarating in the sense that the writer discovers along with her characters. Every sentence is a surprise. There is, of course, also the work and the slog, but for as much perseverance as writing requires, storymaking is a magical process.
Overall, being a writer is pretty marvelous. Being A Person Who Wrote A Book, however, is less so. What I mean is that now my efforts have moved away from creating word pictures and fake people–the things I most love.
Being A Person Who Wrote A Book requires engaging in social media, marketing, readings, and countless boring administrative tasks. Instead of talking animatedly with other writers about storymaking, I find myself obligatorily talking about The Book. Don’t get me wrong, I do still love the book. I just don’t want to talk about it all the time. The work of publishing is a bore.
What I want is to immerse myself in the writing and the being with other writers.
This summer I spent a week in a cabin near Lake Tahoe with three of my fav writing buddies. It was the best! At our third annual Potty Mouth Girls Writing Retreat, we read, talked about books, wrote, went on walks, wrote some more, ate delicious food, watched Stranger Things, and wrote more.
For the past few months, I’ve been working on becoming A Person Who Wrote A Book. But the retreat reminded me how much I love to write–how much I just want to be a writer hanging out with other writers.
I also attended two fabulous conferences this summer.
The first was the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Conference in July. I met a ton of cool writers there, attended educational workshops, and my book cover was a top 3 finalist in the book cover contest, so that was neat.
The second conference was the Willamette Writers Conference in August. One of my short stories won second place in their Kay Snow Writing Contest so I got to attend one day FOR FREE. I attended on a Saturday, and nearly lost my mind when I got to meet amazing actor and writer Stephen Tobolowsky, the keynote speaker.
I left the retreat and conferences on a high, full of creative writing energy, ready to dive deep into the magical process of storymaking.
But now I’m home.
Sitting in my office are to-dos, piling up and nagging at me. Send out pitches for YouTubers, draft a summary for an in-conversation event, create a book launch calendar, draft tweets for a Twitter Takeover event, blah blah blah.
No doubt, I’m extremely lucky to have a book coming out, and it’s ungrateful–unseemly!–for me to complain. Dreary admin tasks and social media work is what 21st century writers are required to do when publishing, and yes, I’m doing it.
I’ll keep doing it. For better or worse, I’ll become A Person Who Wrote A Book.