Thursday, July 21, 2011

Published? Nah. Who needs the validation?

Everyone has a talent at 25. The difficulty is to have it at 50.
                                                                                      —EDGAR DEGAS

This quote jumped out at me from Susan Shaughnessy’s wonderful Walking on Alligators, and I wanted to share it with someone. Facebook? Twitter? But wait—people would know how old I was because the line meant something to me. Delete, delete. Welcome to the New Age, where we pretend to be younger, funnier and braver than we really are. Editing is a powerful thing.

Show of hands: Does the twitosphere make you feel like you’re back in junior high, leaning up against the wall while “Stairway to Heaven” starts to play? After all these years, I was getting pretty comfortable in my own skin, and along comes the “Follow” button to slap me down to earth.

I’m a solitary bird by nature, working at home with my husband, building a business that's flourishing, even while the economy tanks. My second job—writing—is back on the front burner after years of “let me just finish the laundry/painting/reconstruction first.” A great friend and author, Glenn Gordon, suggested that Twitter might be a good way to connect with fellow writers, so I gave it a shot. Which brings me to my other favorite quote:

A poet or novelist will invent interruptions to avoid long consecutive days at the ordained page; and of these the most pernicious are other kinds of writing—articles, lectures, reviews, a wide correspondence.
                                                                                       —SHIRLEY HAZZARD

How busy we writers are, talking about writing. I finished my first novel ten years ago. (It’s in a drawer where it belongs.) My second one is nearly finished—445 pages done, maybe five more chapters to go. So what am I doing? Writing a blog, of course. With any luck, I can string out this gig for another year or two.

As long as my book stays locked away on my laptop, it can be the blockbuster that outsells J.K. Rowling while simultaneously winning the Pulitzer Prize. My dreams are safe. One day soon, I’ll have to gather my courage and send my child out into the world to be taunted and bullied—or worse, ignored.

Remind me again why we write?

In the old days, we fantasized about finding an agent, getting a publisher, seeing our names in hardcover on a bookstore shelf. (Or dare we even hope for a table by the door?) Press tours, radio interviews, maybe even a spot on NPR. Today it’s Kindles and Nooks and Google Books, no middleman in sight. Used to be we only had to worry about a handful of rejection letters from the literary gatekeepers. Now? The whole damn world can judge us in 140 characters or less.

World, please be gentle. Or, at the very least, be funny. That’s all I ask.

1 comment:

  1. Twitter doesn't make me feel like I'm in junior high again. Maybe if I got on some good bully's radar that would change. Do you use Tweetdeck? I find that it lets me play on Twitter without it taking me away from my writing.

    Wecome to twitter and blogging. :) Way to jump in with both feet! I love your bio!