Today on All Authors Monday Memories we bring you a guest post from Devorah Fox titled A Book Can Change Your Life by Devorah Fox.
A Book Can Change Your Life
Author Helen Exley observed, "Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled 'This could changer your life.'" I'd have to agree. A book changed my life. That book was the one that I wrote.
When people would ask me what I do, I would say I'm a writer. They would ask what I've written and I'd list 26 years of publication credits: the "Dee-Scoveries" column for The Island Moon Newspaper and TexasNow magazine, the BUMPERTOBUMPER® textbooks and training materials for commercial motor vehicle operators, the Easy CDL iPhone apps for commerical driving licensing, even guest blog posts. My listeners' eyes would sort of glaze over because what they really wanted to know is "What Novel have you written?"
So I wrote The Lost King, a literary fantasy. OK, I did have other reasons for writing it. A big part of my motivation, though, was so that I could have a more interesting answer to the “what do you write?” question. However it turned out that what people were really asking was “What novel have you written that’s PUBLISHED? One that we can buy and read?”
So I released The Lost King, admittedly with minimal fanfare. In retrospect I may have been somewhat shy about it, as in “what if it’s no good? What if no one reads it? What if they hate it?”
To my surprise people did buy it. They did read it. They loved it, gave it five-star reviews and then asked, “When’s the next book coming out?”
The next book? I hadn’t planned on a next book. Frankly, I hadn’t “planned” the first book. I had to admit, though, I was in love with the characters from The Lost King and there was more tale to tell. I would have expected friends to say kind things about my books but The Lost King was being enjoyed and applauded by people who didn’t know me. So I wrote The King’s Ransom.
The release of that second book was more awesome than the first. Perhaps it was because I was more purposeful about and had more invested in Book Two than Book One.
For The King’s Ransom I had a more widely publicized book launch and I threw a huge party. There may have been more people at my book launch party than there had been at my wedding. I felt like a star and not just because I was dressed in a medieval gown like a character from my books and wearing a tiara. I had a new identity. I was a Novelist.
Readers applauded The King’s Ransom and immediately clamored for Book Three. The King’s Redress is slated for a Summer 2014 release but meanwhile I had another story that I wanted to share. I tackled that project with the confidence I now had from the welcome the first two books received.
December 2013 saw the release of Naked Came the Sharks, a contemporary thriller that I wrote with Jed Donellie. The day I sat down to update the banner on my Facebook author page I had something of an epiphany. As I added the Naked Came the Sharks cover image to those of The Lost King and The King’s Ransom, it hit me. I have three books. THREE books. THREE.
I found myself recalling an observation that I had made to a writer friend some time ago. “The release of one’s first book is an incredible accomplishment,” I said. “Just writing one is an achievement, but having it published, having people read it is even more amazing. The second book says the first was not accident. And the third says you’re a player.”
The third says you’re an author. I am an Author, I realized. I had been writing my entire working life but only now did I truly feel as though I could call myself an Author.
As I meet new people who ask me what I do I find myself saying, “I’m an author. I’m a novelist.” In an effort not to get giddy about it, I make try to be nonchalant but inside I am bursting with pride.
I now see the books about writing on my bookshelf in a different light. I’ve owned Bird by Bird and Writing Down the Bones for years but never quite felt that I deserved to read them. The same went for my subscriptions to The Writer and Writer’s Digest. Those publications were for authors, I reasoned. I was a poseur.
Well now I am a bonafide member of the tribe. I can with impunity read those books and magazines. I can buy all notebooks I want. They’re all tools of the trade, after all. I can splurge on a fancy pen for my book signing events. I can take an afternoon off and hang out in a coffeehouse. That’s what authors do, right?
Kidding aside, increasingly I’m taking myself as a novelist seriously. Clearly, my readers do. My novel writing feels less trivial, less like a hobby and more like a destiny that shouldn’t be denied. I feel a little less guilty when I take time away from work to write fiction.
I haven’t lost sight of the fact that I’ve promised a Book Three for readers of the King Bewilliam series. I have started The King’s Redress and as working writers know writing is work. That means shoehorning my noveling into any already busy workday. A small business owner’s responsibilities are all-consuming and don’t leave much room for diversions. It’s hard to find time to take a vacation much less write a novel. Besides it isn’t easy to give any priority to storytelling when it’s my job that pays the bills.
In addition, there’s the never-ending task of marketing and promoting my novels. Like running a small business there’s always more that can be done there, especially now that I have three books to support. Indie author/publishers find out very quickly that selling books is a full time job in itself.
Nevertheless, I’ve pledged to keep putting out novels, even if I have to get up at four o’clock in the morning to write them (and I do precisely that). Why? Because I’m an author.