Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Expectation Triage

One day in the recent past, I got a phonecall from an author. Her book had not yet released (meaning, not yet available to the public).

She was calling to ask why her first royalty check hadn’t arrived. Her mortgage was due the next week, and she had planned to use a portion of her first royalty check for the mortgage.

???? surprised? So was I! [note: if you aren’t surprised, you need to do some reading:]

Let’s rewind to 1989.

Meryl Streep (possibly the most perfect person in the world…if you could combine her, Martha Stewart, Kelly Ripa, and Karen Walker from “Will and Grace”, you’d have my ideal model, but that’s personal….) and Roseanne Barr were in the movie “She-Devil.”

I remember watching this movie, eagerly snacking on my popcorn. The manuscripts I had already started working on, and the little handmade books about tea parties and bumblebees from my childhood, were in the back of my mind.

I learned two things I accepted as truth and implemented in my life:
1) you should NEVER allow facial hair and/or moles a place in your life (which probably explains my mild obsession with tweezing my eyebrows…)
2) authors live in big mansions, have indoor swimming pools, and are lavishly beautiful

So imagine my shock when I graduated with my writing degree ready to claim my mansion and maid. And life insurance. And health insurance. And dental, optical, etc.

Yah, no. It doesn’t work that way.

In case you’ve missed my point here, let me be brutally honest: Following the old strategy of marketing books, most authors will not be able to support themselves with their royalties and advances.

Think back to your college writing professors. The majority of them are not there out of the goodness of their hearts; they are there for the stable paycheck the university gives them.

If you are an author and are anything like me—obsessed with literature, the arts, and creating a voice that transcends generations—then I’m sending you a heart hug and a box of tissues. I’ve been there.

Consider this your expectation triage. We’ve assessed the extent of your wounds. For most of us, they are deep, reaching down into the concept upon which we’ve built our lives.

My next few posts will facilitate your treatment and care, much like an emergency room.

It’ll sting. Cleaning out a wound usually does.

It’s gonna hurt. Changing the purpose of something usually does.

It’ll be new. Any transformation usually is.

But the outlook on this side of treatment is much more fulfilling than the original diagnosis of naivety. You’ll see. [smiley face]

Question: What has led to an outlook change in any area your life, how painful was the transformation, and detail the benefits you’ve received?

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