[THE WRITER'S LIFE] My Glamorous Life
Contributor

It has been a full year since my book, Flip-Flops After 50 was published. This past weekend, I sat anxiously at home, iPhone (and twitter feed) in one hand, glass of red wine in the other, waiting for Brooke Warner to let me know the results from the IBPA awards ceremony. My book was a finalist for Humor in the IBPA Ben Franklin Awards this year and it felt like a fitting cap to an amazing year: A golden award, a crowning achievement.

Except that I didn’t get it.


Brooke thoughtfully emailed me with the news and I turned off my phone, poured another glass of Malbec and queued up Scandal on Netflix.  Throughout the rest of the evening I allowed some residual disappointment to float up to my consciousness, but all in all, I was fine with the results. There were four She Writes Press books up for awards and one of us took home gold. The rest of us are still considered finalists and can put little silver Ben Franklin stickers on our books if we want. That was enough for me.

This is how glamorous my life has become: I attend awards ceremonies vicariously, sitting at home in my comfies and slippers. See my fancy office?  The photograph to the right shows clearly that I share my space with laundry. And whatever boxes need to be brought up to the attic. And the ironing board.  Pretty glamorous.

If I allowed myself to fantasize what my life might look like a year after I published my first book, I might have thought about things like buying a new laptop or quitting my “day job.”  I might have dreamed of traveling to New York City--where all the big authors go--or Miami--where they wear a lot of flip-flops.  I might have shoes other than flip-flops, with heels and leather.  I would have sold tens of thousands of books. My email would be full of invitations from TV shows and newspapers wanting to do an interview and I might have to hire someone just to manage it all.

In fact, none of that has happened.

I didn’t get glamorous or famous or rich. I may never win a gold award; I might never have to hire an accountant. I’ve been in a few newspapers, I was interviewed on the radio once and when bookstores decide to order my book, they order one. So, through that particular lens, my life hasn’t changed that much. But to say it hasn’t changed at all would be inaccurate. Actually, my life has changed immensely. 

There is a strength of spirit and confidence inside me these days that I either never acknowledged or couldn’t possibly know existed. It arose from putting my work out there and having to promote it...kind of a terrifying arrangement for an introvert. I have met people who have shared very personal stories with me that have touched my heart. I have learned that with the thrill of accomplishment comes the sting of negativity and that you can’t have one without the other; and that in itself has been a generous gift. 

Would I be okay with all that other stuff?  Yes, the answer is yes! I would happily put on real shoes and a sparkly dress and accept an award.  For writing? Just try me.  I’m sure I’m like all the other writers out there, though. I don’t write for the rewards, I write because I’m compelled to.  Doing what one loves is its own reward.  

But, if I had to, I could move the laundry over and make room for a small statuette...or two.

 

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Comments
  • J. Dylan Yates

    This is fabulous, Cindy. Just read it and laughed out loud. Several times. You are a funny lady and I'm so glad to know you. Can completely relate to your office space and the feeling that "Most of the time, I'm really best in a small room with a view without any other people present". Keep dancing lady! You've already won big in my heart.

  • Sherrey Meyer

    "Doing what one loves is its own reward." These words sum up exactly how I feel about my writing. I can't get through a day without writing something. And as for that image of your writing space--it looks vaguely similar to my own. I've got a corner of my sewing room dedicated to writing. Actually moved a sewing machine to steal the space. But it's mine, all mine. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Thank you, Kamy...I can't believe you had time to comment in the midst of the beautiful madness that is swirling around you right now! Enjoy! Joanne, I love the "hazy heaven" description of the expectant period of nearly/newly published...I know just what you mean. :) 

  • Joanne C. Hillhouse

    On point, Cindy. Sooo on point. I mused not that long ago on my first award submission...it went something like yours

  • This is fabulous--should be required reading for everyone publishing a book. I so needed to read this, and be reminded of the true satisfactions and reasons for publishing, right now, in the midst of my madness. Thank you Cindy!

  • I love this conversation. Thanks, all, for your thoughts and experiences. I've learned so much through this process and one of the things I've been most grateful for is this very community...it is supportive and encouraging in a way I never imagined. Thank you...again!

  • Joan Z. Rough

    Love your honesty and acceptance.  Too often expectations get in the way, but we all have them and it's part of the learning curve regardless of what kind of work we do. Along with disappointment, we also find satisfaction in words as we sit down to at the computer and write another story.  Thanks!

  • Michelle Cox

    Sigh.  Good reality check, Cindy.  My book won't be published until Spring 2016, so I'm trying to just enjoy the process and not think about sales!  It's been quite a journey, even so far!  Thanks for your perspective.

  • Lene Fogelberg Writing

    Thanks Cindy! With my pub day only a few months away I loved reading your reflections and perspective! And I think you deserve a great award for your book! 

  • Good one! And so realistic!! There are so many books out there, and any single person can only read so many in a month or a year. I didn't expect many sales from my first book - it was a get-it-off-my-chest niche book, and I didn't pay much for publication, so that was fine. The second one was topical--and I thought well written and timely. Moreover, I paid a lot for publication and publicity. There was a little initial blip in sales, and any sales since have come from\ presentations at events. I'm going to try email marketing but am a bit shy about that approach.

    Still, I keep on writing. I've heard that it normally takes four or five published books to finally develop an audience and develop a following with readers--who may then purchase back-listed books.

  • Marianne C. Bohr

    Thanks for your honesty, Cindy. It's so hard not to feel ill while negotiating the vicissitudes of this book publishing ride. One day I feel so confident about my writing and my book and the next I'm down on everything! Doing my best to just enjoy the process and the writing journey I've come to depend on for inner reward.

  • Thanks, all...what lovely and thoughtful words. Those of you who are in the middle of bringing a book to life - congrats. It really has been the most amazing experience. So much so that maybe I'll do it again! (This is why women have more than one child...they forget how much trouble the one before was!)

  • Sharon McDonell

    Cindy, thank you for the post.  A reality check is always good.  But never, say never, you must have another book waiting to come out.  Who knows what the future holds, keep on flipping!  

  • Celine Keating

    Cindy, this is SUCH a beautiful post.  I'm going to bookmark it for next year, when I'm sure I'll be exactly where you are today (and most likely not with that finalist medallion, either).  As someone once said, It's the journey....  Will make sure to get your book asap.

  • Barbara Stark-Nemon

    I LOVE this, Cindy.. a perfect read in the midst of book launch month.  Thank you so much for injecting some thoughtful perspective into it all.....

  • Jill Jepson

    Well said! Thanks for the honest, insightful post.

  • Philippa Anne Rees

    Nicely written. Join the club! We all shared those imaginings once. I have not gained but lost confidence. Different bits of writing have won four finalist awards and a runner up Book of the Year (2013) but none of that finds its way to readers and they are all that matter. I don't doubt my ability to write or even be recognised but whether to complete two more books in progress when the hope of readers diminishes by the day. Its nice to be in good company!

  • Thanks, Cate! I think I should give the celebrity bit a shot, right? We all should! :)