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Friday, March 7, 2008

Unfortunately, Authors Can Only Control the Writing

I’m a Type A over-achiever. This means I put immense pressure on myself and I worry a lot (thanks mom for passing down those genes). I stress about everything from money to Christmas dinner to dentist appointments. I’m also crazy competitive. In the 10 years that I’ve been in a relationship with my husband, I’ve beaten him in Scrabble—a lot (“Riesling,” 77 points, all-time high). I even catch myself in Zen-inducing yoga classes oddly competing with the Cirque du Soleil contortionist next me even though my muscles clearly are not made out of rubber bands.

So when it comes to dealing with the publishing process, I can stress myself into a bout of TMJ. Because as an author, you can’t control beyond the last word you put on the page.

You can’t control whether the book gets sold. You can’t control the shifts in the market. You can’t control whether it gets reviewed by People. You can’t control how it’s perceived in the marketplace. And you can’t control whether it gets picked up by the Goddess of Oprah. You can only control the writing.

It’s a lesson I learn everyday. It’s how I keep my Type A tendencies in check. I write. I always have something new in the works, because writing is what I love to do.

It also helps that I have an agent who gets me and an editor who loves my work. Plus, I have a background in public relations, which means I get to spend the months between now and September (the book launch) obsessively focusing on ways to sell my book. Sure, I can’t control how many teens go out and buy it. But I can control how many schools I speak at, how many book stores I contact, and how many press releases I promote. Plus, I have a husband with a background in marketing who works for an interactive advertising agency. That doesn’t hurt.

So I know what needs to be done and I’ve never been one to sit back and wait for things to happen. If I were, I wouldn’t have gotten this far; I wouldn’t be an author.

“I majored in marketing, baby, and so did my husband. We came to play.” –Regina King in Jerry Maguire

POP-CULTURE RANT: Elections

I have an odd obsession with CNN’s election coverage. I love that board they draw on like they’re John Madden. But what I love even more is that it all comes down to Pennsylvania, baby! Since I have been of voting age, the primaries have all been decided by the time they got to my home state. Why does PA vote three months after Iowa? I have no idea (Rendell should get on that). But now all those “expert pundits,” who were ready to hand Obama the victory after a single state’s election, have to wait until the keystone state weighs in. Seven weeks of nonstop stumping in Philadelphia! I wouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea Clinton shows up at my niece’s Communion to stir up votes (hint, hint).

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