Tag Archives: stories

Being Successful as a Writer

Being A Successful Writer

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I lost my way for a short time. I got involved in the social media thing … you know the Facebook novel promotions and that sort of thing that ‘people in the business’ say is what you need to do. Quite frankly, I think ‘people in the business’ are full of shit. They want you to think they know what they are talking about. But if they are so good at telling you how to sell books, how come they aren’t selling their own? Why are they writing articles on “HOW TO DO IT.”? How come there are so many authors turned into publishers? I don’t really think a good publisher can also be a good author and vice-versa. Just my opinion. Personally, I think when that is done, someone is looking for a way to make more money because they suck at being an author or they suck at being a publisher… they can’t be good at both. It’s not a job you can multi-task well.  They’re in it for the wrong reasons.

Those book promo sites on Facebook are people doing the same thing. Sell the book. It might get one or two sales, but that’s not the place you want to put your time and effort into promoting and selling your books. I thought I had to do what everyone else was doing because “they said” that’s what you have to do to be successful. I can tell you right now, I’ve been doing this writing thing for a lot of years. If you ask me if I think I’m successful at it, my answer would be, “Yes, I’m very successful at it. I’ve written millions.”

Does that mean I’m successful at making money at writing my millions? Well, not exactly. That’s a whole new nonfiction novel — which I don’t do. You see, the way I figure it, there is success in writing and there is success in making money. So far as I can tell, the two don’t really go together, unless, of course, you are Stephen King. I like to tell people I’m not in it for the money. But that’s kind of a lie because who doesn’t want to make money? It would be a sweet gig if I could make a lot of money doing what I love to do. Right now that doesn’t seem to be the case, but I’m too old to find a new hobby as so many people like to refer to my addiction that I have with writing.

Seriously though, I’m in it because … well if I don’t write I get really moody and sometimes I need to do it to vent. It’s almost like an addiction to, say, cigarettes. I can use that as an example because I quit that habit – in fact next month will make eight years. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve slipped up quite a few times since then and had me a clove cigar every now and again. I will probably continue to slip up every once in a while, but I don’t have that nagging desire to go have a smoke every hour or so like I did for 22 years. Now writing, that nagging desire is there even in my sleep. I do some of my best writing in my sleep. I don’t think I could ever give it up. I’ve tried, but it just keeps coming back to haunt me. I have to get those ideas and thoughts down.

So I have published a few books and am working on a new novel and a holiday cookbook. I’m also looking for new innovative ways to promote my writing. That’s the hard part of the business. In a few days I’ll see that some of the followers on social media will suddenly be doing the same thing with a holiday cookbook or something to that effect. If you are good at what you do, people are going to try to duplicate you. The way to find out if you’re successful is when you look around and see others copying what you do … this means they are watching you. This means you are good at doing what you do. It’s like that saying on the Mike’s Hard Lemonade label, “If you’re gonna be original you can count on being copied.”

Not that I’m original, there is nothing new under the sun. I just look for innovative ways to make old shit look like new shit. When people copy you, accept it as a compliment and move on to the next task at hand. People can write about the same topic as you, but they can’t write like you. You are an original writer and no one can take that away from you. Do what you do and don’t worry about anything else. If you were meant to be successful at making money, you will make lots of money. If you were meant to be successful at writing, you will write a lot. If you were meant to be successful at making lots of money from writing, well you have one hell of a talent!

The Old Pine Tree

memories

 

Once upon a time when I was a little girl I remember sitting on a wooden board. The board was carved out with large irregular V’s on either side. Strategically the board was placed between a thick braided-rope that looped down in a U. This rope I remember, was somewhat prickly to the touch. It reached up for a long ways and was twisted around the trunk of a hundred year old pine tree. I spent countless days and evenings on that old rope swing. So much time that eventually the prickly rope became smooth in the two positions where I held on with my hands.

Mostly I remember spending the days on the swing alone. I would swing as high as my short pumping legs would let me go, stretching my sneaker feet out to the sky. One day I had the notion that if I stood on the board I could pump harder, and the swing could go higher. It sure did. Right over the top of the clothes line. That next week was the longest week of my life. I had to stay inside the house. Back in the 70’s a kid staying inside in the summertime was out of the question. But my legs had to be kept straight while my grandmother applied some sticky gooey dressing on the backs of my knees to prevent infection from the rope burn I acquired. Those burns were the worst thing I thought I ever felt. But that was before the tire replaced the board. I scraped my whole back across the bark of the old pine tree. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but in childhood fashion, I was swinging powerfully high. When the tire twirled and came down and around, the motion threw me with ferocity into the tree. At my grandmother’s exhorting, the tire was removed and the board returned to the rope.

Some of my fondest memories took place underneath that old pine tree. My favorite times were when the other kids were there; my sister and my cousins. There were nine aunts and uncles so there were lots of kids. They would all gather on the picnic table under the pine tree and I would take my place on the swing. “Tell us a story,” they would insist. The stories I told I made up from watching Big Valley or Bonanza or Green Acres, and all of the kids would play a part in the story. The girls wore long, beautiful gowns and their hair was curled up pretty. The boys always rode horses and wore cowboy hats and leather boots. We all lived in grand mansions and had prominent jobs. On the weekends, we would get together with our children and enjoy each other’s company like the families of Ozzie and Harriet, The Brady Bunch and My Three Sons.

As time advanced, we grew up. I left the swing behind. Life in the real world was not anything like the made up family sitcoms I was used to telling stories about. I remember going back to my grandparent’s house after the old swing had been removed. “But why?” I whined to my grandfather. He just gave me a queer look. The rope had rotted and a storm had taken most of the big old pine tree. The kids were now all grown, so what was the point in replacing the swing? What was the point? What is the point? My nostalgic memories? Because I liked it? Because I didn’t want to accept change? Because I wanted everything to stay the same? None of my reasoning mattered to my grandfather. The swing was gone, and so was my youth.

These past few days I’ve been reading through reams of paperwork that were filed way in the back of the bottom drawer of my file cabinet. There is unfinished business that requires attention with my grandfather’s estate. This fall will be the ten-year anniversary of his passing. He had nine kids so there were lots of family gatherings at his house. I have so many good memories of growing up there. I hate for things to change. But change, I have learned, is inevitable.

The heirlooms are gone, and the house has been sold. Relationships are not as important to people like they used to be when I was a little girl. Maybe the relationships were always a façade and I just never knew no one really liked each other. Perhaps there was always the hate and discontent amongst the adults, and I never noticed. It has become clearly evident to me now because it has been passed down to the kids. The stories I tell now are to people I don’t know. There are no long gowns or fancy mansions or horseback riding.

The burn scars on the backs of my legs are proof that the swing was real, but reality is only something we can touch. I think the old pine tree is gone now, too. Families are supposed to stand up for each other and fight for each other, not against each other. The family members I grew up with have metamorphosed into people who hate each other, offering a glass of tea in one outstretched hand, while hiding a machete behind their backs in the other.  My childhood has been relinquished to smoke and mirrors. The rope swing at my grandfather’s house is my childhood fairy tale. I will keep it in my memory for as long as the scars remain on the backs of my legs. Even with change, we still can try to hold on to the good memories.