Sunday, October 23, 2011

That Was Then, This Is Now.....

That was then....this is now.

I'm amazed at how the public both out here in the real world, in the small town where I live in the Ozark mountains, in my hometown of St. Joseph, and out in the big wide cyber world  look at me with new eyes this October over last.

Last October, I had one signed novel contract but others loomed just ahead.  I didn't know it, however but I kept right on writing.

It’s funny – and to steal a line from an old episode of Gilligan’s Island I mean funny strange, not funny ha-ha- the difference in how others look at you when you’re a scribbling writer and when you can point them to your actual works, available for sale.   When you’re writing and maybe publishing the little story here, the article there, even writing a local column, people smile and think it’s somehow “cute”.  I mean after all, you’re “trying to be a writer”, right?  So that’s all warm and fuzzy somehow.   They, in their well-meaning way, may offer to “let you” be the secretary for some social club because you write.  Or offer you a chance to do a newsletter for a group gratis because you’re a writer.   They might compliment your columns, even clip them out and hang them on the fridge but it’s still little and local.   It’s still something like winning a blue ribbon for your quilt or jar of apple jelly at the county fair.   It’s nice but not that far outside the ordinary.

When you have your hair done at a local salon and they ask where you work, when you tell them you’re a writer, they grin down at you, captive in that chair and nod but they don’t really think so.   You may go to school for parent-teacher conference or to serve as a room mother and the question comes up – so what do you do? I’m a writer, you smile and say and they nod.   Of course they’ve always wanted to write and if they just had time, they would.   And of course, if they did, their work would probably turn up on the best seller list, dontcha know. (and for the first time, for what it may be worth, Witness Protection Program is over at Bookstrand)

Then one day you sign a contract for a novel.  You tell a few people and they smile.   After all, I live in Missouri, nicknamed the “Show-Me” state where people are fond of saying “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  They want to see actual evidence.   So you keep writing with a publication date set a year in the future and behold – you sell another one.   It debuts six months before the first and by the time that first one comes out, you have an Amazon author page with multiple titles.

Now the same folks who thought writing was a cute little hobby say things that I could let go to my head like “I’m going to tell my grandkids that I know Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy” or in the event of a relative, a cousin who made me feel ancient with this one, “I told our granddaughter that Grandpa’s cousin wrote the book she’s reading!” or “I read one of your books!”.

Suddenly, you’re legit, you ARE a writer, an author after all.  Now they want you to speak to the kiddies about writing on career day, you gain that seat on the local library board you long coveted, and you feel like you’re walking into Cheers, to that familiar if fictional bar in Boston because now in my small town “everybody knows my name”.

But through it all, I’m the same person with the same experiences, background, skills, talents.

And to me, that’s the funny part – the ha-ha- funny part because the public is getting to know who I was, all the time.

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