My new Twitter friend Mariam Kobras is preparing for the event I’d guess most of us around here dream of: the publication of her first book. Today, she lifts the lid on the new glamorous, exciting life as a professional author that signing on that all important dotted line has brought her… or not! Welcome to Catherine, Caffeinated, Mariam!
So move I did.
When I quit school, I threw my resignation at the headmistress in a moment of fury at her latest chicanery. I had no idea I would, only days later, get a call from a publisher, offering a book deal. Well, maybe I had a hunch. A hope. Something like, “this is not totally impossible”. But it had nothing to do with quitting the teaching job, because I did not really want to quit it, and I miss it a lot. I miss being in the teachers’ room, chatting with people, I miss the liveliness and drama of the lunch break, I terribly miss working with the kids, rehearsing on weekends, staging a new play, singing with them. It was a great job, and I loved it.
So while I was moping around, alone at home, fuming at the truth behind the Peter Principle, somewhere at the other end of the world my future was being shaped.
And I got that call.
My hubby went out to buy champagne, and while he was at the liquor store I strutted through the book store next door and tried to imagine MY book on those shelves, someone picking up MY book, leafing through it, taking it to the counter, BUYING it.
So with this new feeling of accomplishment I signed my contract, became part of a publishing house, and left my old life behind. Suddenly, I was an “author”.
It’s so funny, but once you announce to the world that you’ve signed a book deal, everyone wants to know how you did it, and since we’re talking about writing and publishing, how does “writing” actually work, how do you do it, and what does your life look like, now?
My life is boring. I get up in the morning, brush my teeth, make coffee, kiss the hubby and kid goodbye, pet the cat, open the laptop, check twitter, facebook and my emails, and then I pick up the writing where I left off the night before. When it’s time for the family to come home I make lunch, chat a bit with the hubby, have another cup of coffee, and then I return to my work until it’s time for dinner and some TV. Sometimes, I go out, but not too often, and mostly on the weekends.
Writing is lonely. Writing is a bit schizophrenic. You are more in that “other” world than in your own, real one. Writing takes patience, and faith, and the ability to sit still for long periods of time.
I complain a lot about being alone so often, and feeling lonely, but then when something comes up and I have to leave my writing cave I bitch and moan about it.
Writing is addictive, and it gets even worse once you have someone in your email folder who tells you “WE ARE WAITING! GET THAT BOOK FINISHED ALREADY!”
I know many writers wilt when they get these mails, and call it “pressure”. I don’t. For me, it’s the sweet security of being wanted. The pat on the head. The reason for my stiff shoulders and aching wrists. The love of the publisher. The excuse to go back and write some more.
How does writing work?
Heck I have no idea. You might just as well ask my how breathing works, or thinking. It just happens. You’ll never get a good, useful blog post on “how to” out of me, I’m afraid.
The only thing I can tell you about writing is this: observe. Everything, anything happening around you is potential writing material: a leaf, trundling toward the ground in the rain, a girl on the subway, looking out the window, her head held at just that angle, a tired woman carrying her grocery shopping home after a day at work.
Sometimes I feel more like a painter than a writer, trying to engrave all these images and impressions into my memory for later use.
That flower stand, and the way the colors of the bouquets blend and contrast, and then I see the scene I want to write next, where my protagonists visit a friend and her new baby in hospital and they buy flowers for her. Yes, those pale roses, and that ribbon… Scene done.
So this is the only advice I have to give: Watch. Stare. Listen. Everywhere, all the time.
Now that I read what I wrote I have to correct myself. An author’s life is not boring. It may be quiet, and sometimes lonely, but it’s not boring. And I love it.
Mariam is the author of “The Distant Shore”, published by Buddha’s Ink LLC, coming January 17, 2012. Currently she is working on the sequel, and tweeting a lot.
You can find her here: