I’m a New York Times Best-Selling author. It’s rather technical, the NYT divides its non-fiction into sub categories. I’m on the Fashion, Manners and Customs list. I’ve decided it counts and have began dressing appropriately for a person befitting my station (see left).
The big list…just plain “Non-Fiction Hardbacks”….I think you have to be on TV or lead a large religion to get on that one. Those people, the ones with charisma to entertain millions with a smile, have dipped cups into the tureen that we shed-dwelling book-smelling writers have crowded around, starving, even though there is set a whole buffet table for them. Go be attractive and soulful by the dessert table, Bruce Springsteen, Dali Lama and Tim Tebow. This is our broth and we’ve already got to share with a lot of people.
One of the reasons I’ve been successful in my short (5? years) career, is I’ve been told I have a “unique voice.” That means that I write like I talk, but better. Cuz I talk like a half-wit drunk on Nyquil. But that voice in my writing is scrubbed and rinsed. It comes out sharply, with words that fold like origami cranes into sentences that say just what I mean in a way lots of people aren’t bored by. That’s all a good writer is, really.
One of the reasons my voice is distinctive is because I have no proper sense of shame. I don’t remember where I lost it, or when. I did have it. I was too ashamed of my worthless ugly stupid self to even talk to people for YEARS of my life.
But at some point…maybe when my husband fell in love with me, I snapped it off. That long dry rotting shame stick. Broke it off. No replacement parts available. The end result was an inappropriate loudmouth who meant no harm. That voice, it turns out, altered just a bit for fun, sells books. (Or annoys the living crap outta people, but that’s fair.)
I have been having a really hard time understanding that I’m expected to filter that voice down now. Like, squinty-eyed, staring at a math problem written in Cyrillic, hard. Because I don’t mean any harm…why would anyone get offended? And I’m the same person I was before this book came out so…why…? I thought the whole reason I GOT here was because I was different.
I have now stopped counting how many times someone from the amazing team of people who work so hard to sell my book has reminded me not to – or rebuked me for- inappropriate behavior.
A successful writer must not:
-Tell people in book forums that they read it wrong and try to correct them.
-Point out to professional reviewers the pages they missed that would have most certainly warmed their tepid reviews.
-Personally answer interview requests. Especially not from pornographic magazines. No matter how funny you think it is.
-Post anything too transparent about your personal or writing life on any social media. Which is just…I’m an attention whore with no shame stick you have no idea how hard it is for me not to take selfies during my pap smear because that would be FUNNY….very difficult for some people.
-Skip proper channels of communication. If you don’t understand this it maybe is because you, like me, never worked in an office setting. You can’t just ask Lloyd in shipping why your boxes of pudding haven’t left the docks for Tonga yet. Really you want to ask Tonga why they haven’t put a rush order on your pudding…but you don’t know Tonga’s email. You especially can’t if Lloyd doesn’t know you well and you tend to accidentally scream conversationally which some people find charming. You have to ask your supervisor, who will ask Lloyd’s secretary, who will speak to Lloyd at an appropriate time. Doesn’t matter if Lloyd’s office is directly adjacent yours, either.
And I forgot the rest. Shame nubs, itch. They all basically boil down to, there is a time and a place to act like your old, unfiltered self.
That time and place is when everyone has left the house and the houses near you and you are alone, locked in your bathroom, during a power outage. There you can talk smack all you want to decorative soaps and demand justification from your children’s rubber duck collection and literally show off what a wise-ass you are indefinitely to your flushable wipes.
That’s…maturity. Acting “like a grown up” is a term I keep hearing. Conducting yourself like someone who has their shit together enough to write best selling books.
The only problem is…what the WORLD is my motivation? Acting like a petulant child with boundary issues has netted me:
-True love and a strong marriage
-Just enough money to comfortable keep the wolves at bay
-Children I genuinely LIKE as well as love
-Friends in every flavor (local, casual, acquaintance, donate kidney for)
– A lift full of precious joy deposits just below the surface, gleaming through the soil.
-And oh yeah…that spot on the NYT Bestseller List.
I got troubles yeah…but the most mature people I know STILL have depression, sloth, greed…all that junk I should probably one day try thinking about maybe working on.
But for the sake of those who worked hard to help me, and for those who paid good money to read me, that old self is just too pitted and scratched and torn. A few people will love it all the more for it’s flaws, but there is more now, than just me and those few.
I think I get it, finally. Sorta. I can’t become a sophisticate. I was made how I was made, and no amount of reading, classy friends, or schooling has changed it. BUT.
I owe it to my readers and my associates and probable just everyone, to put on a clean shirt when I leave the metaphorical house. And not one with a fart joke written on it, either. To think before speak-screaming, and to not run up to every door like a belligerent moose and began trying to scratch and butt it open because I was too distracted to remember the key. That’s not pretension, it’s just…showing respect to those who deserve it. Yeah?
I foresee absolutely no difficulty in quickly and thoroughly altering my habits at 38 years of contented age. Shush. Sarcasm is permit-able no matter what your maturity level.