I’ve written a book. I’ve published it. I’m working like crazy to get the book its fair share of attention. Now what? When will Oprah phone?

I meant it as a joke, well only sort of. In the process of marketing, I’ve joined lots of organizations, blogs, groups, etc. that appeal to writers. And one of the first things occurring to me is that there’s an awful lot of hand wringing, worrying, and if I may –  taking oneself a wee bit too seriously.

Okay, I’ve written a book. Good for me. I loved the writing process, I loved  the editing process even more. I learned so much from my editor – everything and more than I never learned in college. I don’t think I could have invented a more fulfilling project.

But really! Does writing make me a brilliant philosopher? Nobel or Pulitzer worthy candidate? Just because I managed to set down 131,654 words to page, and turn it into a readable story, I’m kind of thinking that doesn’t make me any better than anyone else. I’ve been reading a lot of articles where people are taking themselves way too seriously. Hello? Writing a book does not a super being make!

This whole thing reminds me of my days as an interior designer. I was a damn good designer, not brilliant or revolutionary, but creative and responsible. I knew my interiors would stand the test of time – I believe they can still hold their own and we’re talking over 20 years here! I was okay with not being outrageous because I knew my clients liked me – and my work.

But I had friends who were hysterical about their projects – their very being depended on the outcome of their latest design project. More than once I found myself saying – “Hey, its not brain surgery we’re doing here. Get a grip!” But alas my words did not help. They chose to think of their work as indispensable, or somewhat close, and if the slightest thing went awry, OH MY GOD!

I’ve read discussions about writing for the benefit of others – that we write to please other people, not ourselves. I don’t think so! I write because I want to. Because it’s fun and and fulfilling and makes me content. But to think that I’m doing this as a service to humanity? That I’m significantly contributing to world harmony just because I wrote a good, maybe even a really good book? Nah.

I just can’t take all this seriousness about the subject. Forgive me, but it does all seem rather masturbatory. Some people write good books. Some people write not such good books. But yet, EVERYONE thinks he has written a masterpiece. And that masterpiece will go on to sell millions and if it doesn’t, its the fault of the publishing industry who didn’t promote it, the media who didn’t pay attention or the reviewers who had axes to grind …

Am I being too harsh? Too frivolous? Taking the subject too lightly? I certainly do not intend to demean anyone who spends his or her time stuck to a computer or writing pad. I don’t want to offend anyone who has decided to share thoughts with the outside world. But I’ll say it again – we’ve written because we wanted to. We’ve taken advantage of a skill we may have and exposed it to the world. If we’re fortunate enough to make a living from writing, or to be able to write without worrying about making a living, then I say we’re lucky as hell!

Please, let’s all get our lives back. Let’s not get so carried away with ourselves that we think the world can’t live without our writing. Do we want recognition? Hell yes! Do we want the phone to ring with Oprah on the other end? Oh yeah! But does that give us the right to pontificate on politics, world peace, the state of the union and all other timely topics – just because we wrote something? NO, IT DOES NOT!!!

Oprah, did you hear me?

P. S. The bookstore chain just called and ordered 40 more books from me (Menopause in Manhattan). Oprah honey, I don’t need you anymore!

12 Responses

  1. Loved this article about Oprah. I guess we all go through the same phases when our first novel is published. I remember similar feelings described in this article when mine and my daughter’s first novel, Livin’ in High Cotton, was published. Those feelings do pass and you realize that you are writing because it’s what you love to do. But oh how wonderful it feels when you are successful. Just remember being successful doesn’t mean you have to be on Oprah, but that is also one of mine and Jennifer’s dreams.

  2. Great post! I have actually stopped participating actively in certain discussion groups because of the arrogance and attitudes of some other authors. It’s just not that serious! I am a writer by trade and by choice, not because it defines my entire person. I won’t die and the word won’t blow up into a kazillion tiny pieces if my work never hits the best sellers list. Although, I might cry a bit.
    I really admire you, Anne!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Yolanda. I can’t stop thinking about it – why do writers take themselves soooooo seriously? And what’s wrong with me that I don’t? I say we all need a healthier dose of humor and that’s that!

  3. Did you go with a traditional publisher or self publish? I’d like to hear the royalty on 40 books from a traditional publishing house. Unless you are famous and get a generous advance my understanding is it’s peanuts.

    1. Hi Philip – Self-published all the way. Printing it here in Israel wasn’t so costly. The main bookstore chain picked it up so I have a direct deal with them. I’m the publisher!

  4. You are right Anne to take yourself not too seriously. But of course Oprah should phone you! Someone should give her your number! No, first your book, then your number 😉

    By the way, you can do a service to humanity if all women (forget the men) read your book.
    Then you also can say that you’re significantly contributing to world harmony! At least to mine 😀

  5. I LOVE that you don’t take yourself too seriously! But you SHOULD be very proud! Do you realize it’s everyone’s dream to write a book and how many of us actually do it?! You are amazing!

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