What keeps me going?
Until I managed to sell a book, sheer tenacity. I knew the odds of selling a book were roughly the same as dating George Clooney, but I hung in there anyway. The day I got that magic phone call telling me I had actually sold a book, I truly felt that I could die a happy woman with the receiver in my hand (phones still had receivers). "Selling a book" was number one on my bucket list.
But I did not drop dead on my parent's kitchen floor. I realized I didn't have a second item on my bucket list. So I did what I do best.
Worry. I could write a whole blog on worry, but in this case let's narrow it done to one worry. I didn't want to let down an editor who took a chance on a newbie author. I am professional worrier. I have very little ability to judge my own work, so the easy road was to assume it was awful and worry. Which does not lead to actually producing work. Kicking and screaming, I locked my Worries into a closet, and then lost the key. Every now and then I can still hear them in there, but they are muffled, and apparently have lost the energy to kick.
Most of the time I feel like The Bubble Boy on Seinfeld. It's just me and that blank computer screen, all alone, floating around in space. ("In space, no one can hear you scream.") It's a relief when the editor enters my bubble. I have someone who will encourage, nudge or just plain say "this doesn't work." However, 99% of the time, it's just me and my Mac and the Bubble. It's easy to forget that eventually (hopefully) someone besides a bunch of adults at my publishers will read what I write. If I only had a bleacher full of my readers sitting in my office (which would half to be a lot bigger than it is now!) chanting "Go Ms Rodman, go. Finish that book before I have children on my own! W-R-I-T-E.
Write it, Rodman!"
Since my office is crowded enough, I have a "bleacher wall" across from my desk. These are pictures of my readers, taken at school visits and book fairs. There is the girl who loved Yankee Girl so much, she made me a CD of all the Beatles songs in the book. The adult bloggers who made the WWII ration-restricted recipes from Jimmy's Stars. The grandmother who came to a reading of A Tree for Emmy, and shared her memories of when the streets of our town were lined with these pink blossomed trees.
I am no rock star writer. I'm not recognized in the supermarket or pursued in malls. I'm not J.K. Rowling who is rumored to be richer than the Queen of England. I am not Lemony Snicket whose local appearance required the fire department to keep the number of nine-year-olds in Barnes and Noble under the legal limit, admitting them one at a time as another happy reader exited. It might be nice to be a rock star writer, for a little while (although I could put up with the royalty checks forever!)
What I lack in fame, fortune and Important Awards, I make up for with readers who care. Readers who care what happens to my characters, care whether there is a sequel to Yankee Girl (not so far, but it's a possibility), who want to know "where the stories come from." Readers for whom my characters are real.
The readers who are outside my bubble, urging me upward and onward.
Posted by Mary Ann Rodman