Recently I have had some, thankfully minor, health scares. Luckily for me they are all easily fixable and will lead to my leading a much healthier and happier life. Now, what, you might think, does this have to do with writing? Well that's easy.
One of the problems I have been having was related to sleep. While I won’t get in to all of the details, one of the doctor’s solutions was to not look at screens for two hours before sleeping. Crazy right! In this day and age how could I possibly not look at a TV, phone, or tablet for two hours? What would I do?
Turns out the answer was simple. I read! Though a lot of this has sucked I have loved getting back to the days of reading before bed. And I’m reading real books too. Holding them in my hand. None of this e-book or audio stuff.
At first I reread some of my favorite cozy series. They helped remind me why I love the genre and inspire my next novel. Then I got to go to the bookstore! Since that’s basically my favorite place in the world it was a great day. I picked up a bunch of great new stuff, much of it in new genres. And since its doctor’s orders my husband can’t tell me I spent too much money!
But in all seriousness, while the circumstances that led to this weren’t the best, I relish the chance to get back to my roots as a writer, to read again.
There can be work that flows, like Alice through the Looking Glass, and needs no gestation, no fermentation at all. But for many writers, their work take time. Weeks, months, years, even decades before a particular piece reaches its peak. You will know when your work is ready to get pushed out into the world. If you don't, you can rely on trusted friends, editors, agents, or even your beta readers.
Oysters (and muscles and clams, interestingly) take an irritation, usually a parasite, and layer soft crystalline calcium carbonate (nacre) onto it, turning it into a pearl. It takes three to six years to produce a single pearl, which is a considerable investment (for a clam or a pearl farmer, who sink about $100 per year into each living mollusk). In comparison, our time seems quite reasonable, since most of us are two timing our work waiting tables, crunching tax numbers, or however else we get food on the table.
Writers take an itch and develop it into something - a poem or play, short story, novel, non-fiction work and so on. According to Stephen King, Under the Dome sat for decades after sketching out his original idea. Other authors with many published works under their belt take years to produce a single work: Angelou, Pullman, Tolkien, and many others give their work as long as it needs. To create something of remarkable gem quality, time (and patience and persistence) are part of the ingredient list.
Book signings. They are one of the sweet benefits of an author’s life. While we write, we seclude ourselves away from the world with only our characters for company. However, after publication we welcome the public to come.
And the 518 Publishing Company savored a sweet last weekend with their first book signing at the ‘Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza’. Our premier anthology, ‘Dark & Bitter’ was front and center and was well received. Four of the 518 authors read excerpts from their stories, welcomed readers, and signed copies of the book. It was such a crush.
But no matter how much you plan and prepare for an event, there is always something that would work better. For instance, the flow of customers coming into the book store was not to our advantage. Even though we were right in front by the door, people would come in look at what we were doing, then keep going. Customers had to be invited into the book signing. Not that it was a bad thing, but the 518 staff had to be diligent. Maybe a big sign by the door inviting people to come sit and listen to the stories would help. I guess it’s a lesson learned.
All and all, it was a smashing success and we like to thank the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza for hosting us. And if you missed it, no worries, there are many in the future.