Sunday, August 27, 2017

On Writing

I love to write.

But, I hate to write while telling myself I need to be doing it.

So, I guess, like Dorothy Parker, " . . .  I love having written."

Here's the thing.

I am proud of "Whimsey: A Novel."  

SO proud

I recently picked it up to re-read.  Something I thought I'd never do because I was tired of Whimsey by the time I finished writing (and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting) it.

And then, after the writing . . .

Well, then came all the ups and downs that come with putting out a book - especially a debut novel.

First of all, I had no idea what I was doing.

Secondly, I was "self-publishing," which brings its own set of words whispered behind a raised hand.

Although not as bad as it once was, and even much more "accepted" now than it was in 2013 when Whimsey was published, there was that stigma of "self-published." 

More ups and downs that came with all this were on a more personal level, and truth be told - I'm not sure I'm really tough enough to go through all that again.

Writers say you cannot be thin skinned if you want to be a writer.  Boy Howdy, that is the damned truth.


After re-reading my Whimsey, I'm going to say this.

I like it.

I like it well enough that I would recommend it to friends if I hadn't written it.

I like that it made me smile, and I liked that it made me cry.

It's the book I wanted, for a long time, to write.

I'm proud of the book, I'm proud I'm the author who wrote it.

Then, after reading it, I did something I haven't done in awhile.

I went to Amazon to look at reviews.

There are 71 reviews, which is, I think, a pretty darn fair amount of reviews for a debut novel, self-published.  One with the only promotion coming from me, along with a hearty group of bloggers who were willing to give Whimsey a read and some print.

The reviews I got from well-respected on-line reviewers were very good to pretty good - and I was happy with that.

The reviews on Amazon range from one-star to five stars.  Not unusual.  And, of course, those five star reviews are way more fun to read.

The over-all ranking is 4.1 out of 5 stars - not bad, not bad at all.

What's really fun is knowing that most of the people leaving reviews are people I don't know, never met, never heard of and yet they somehow found my book.  Isn't that amazing?  

I'm truly astonished by this until I remember that I'm a reader who has picked up books by authors I've never heard of and, like many, have loved some of them, while others - not so much.

It just never occurs to me to go to Amazon and leave a negative review, while I can't wait to go and leave a happy little comment for a book I enjoyed.  You won't find the comments I leave under my real name.  Not being a reviewer, I feel silly thinking anyone might give two figs what Kaye Barley might think about a book.  Mainly, I'm just hoping the author will appreciate that there's a reader out there who enjoyed his/her work.

'Course, to the woman who spent $2.00 for a box of 25 books at a yard sale and read 10 pages of Whimsey and hated it - really, really hated it.  Bless your heart.  I hope your $2.00 brought you some joy in the other 24 books.  

What prompted this blog today is the fact that Whimsey is going to be on the shelves of WHSmith Books in Paris.

I sent them a note that I was going to be there next month, would be in their bookstore the evening of their Cara Black event and asked if they would consider stocking a copy or two.

I sent them the "sell sheet" Luan Stauss, owner of Laurel Book Store in Oakland, CA helped me work up when Whimsey was published. Luan was there for me every step of the way - first reader, supporter, a wealth of information on how to do the millions of things that needed to be done - ISBN, distributors, etc.  She ordered and stocked copies.  Every author needs a Luan, especially a first time author.

SIBA was also indispensable.  Through them I was able to send that sell sheet to hundreds of booksellers.  Many of whom agreed to stock my book by either ordering through Ingram, or on consignment.  And practically all of them list it in their on-line ordering inventory.  


Back to WHSmith.

They wrote back within just a couple of hours that they had ordered copies of Whimsey, and were happy to do so.  More than just a couple of copies.

It was a big boost to my ego, and it's what prompted me to pick Whimsey up for a re-read.

A few people have become friends through Facebook because they read and enjoyed Whimsey.  

Samantha Baldwin and Vicki Smith Mitchell, in particular.

They ask, often, how Whimsey #2 is coming.

Well, it's in manuscript form about, I think, maybe at the half way point to being written in its first draft (did I mention I am not a fast writer??!).  


I don't like it. 

And I have re-worked and re-written the damned thing so many times I have to just put it away. 


But it always finds its way back out.  I write a few words, get sick of it and put it away again.  And so it goes.

It's not working out like I thought, and often sounds like Whimsey #1 all over again.  Or, in some places sounds like words just tossed out in a stew of nothing much to brag about.  Ugh.  


WILL there be a Whimsey #2?  No idea.


I do have an idea that means a totally different point of view which means combing through page by page (again), sentence by sentence (again) and reworking what I've already written (again).  But, I like this idea, and you know, it may be worth it.  Maybe.  I won't know until I try.

And there's a second manuscript in the works.  This one I like.  It takes place in the mountains rather than on the coast.  It's a little darker.  A little sexier.  I need to get back to work on it.

What's keeping me from working on the novels?

Well, truth be told - I like writing "creative non-fiction" better.

Thank you Jungle Red for inviting me to write about anything I want once a month!

I like little memoir type pieces.

I like writing "rants."  (It's good to have your own blog to rant at!).

I like writing about my feelings.  Especially right now when I'm feeling so much.

The feelings are not happy feelings at this stage - they're anger, hurt, fear, and astonishment at our government and where this new guy in our White House is taking us.

Truth of the matter is, if I didn't write out those feelings, I'm not sure I'd be able to get out of bed in the mornings.  

So, maybe I'm not meant to write fiction.  Or maybe I should stick to the short stories I've had some luck finding homes for.  Who knows?

But I do know I will continue writing.  

It's one of the things I do.

1 comment:

Lesa said...

Kaye, I like your creative nonfiction pieces. I hope you go wherever your heart leads you. And, if that's Paris with Whimsey, that's fabulous (smile). Hugs, my friend. And, happy writing.