What’s It Like Being A Published Author?
Those Blasted Stereotypes
This is the question I get asked 8 out of 10 times when people find out that I write books.
The purpose of this blog is for me not to lie or provide vague or proper responses that politically-correct-etiquette demands, like when you’ve had a hell of a crappy day and you’re wondering what you do it all for and what the purpose of it all is and someone asks you, “How are you?”, and you say, “Good,” even though what you’re really thinking is Eat Sh** and die! Or something of that nature.
We don’t actually want the person to eat poop right before they kick the bucket, but smiling faces and happy demeanors of those who ask how we are when our frown lines are pronounced and our eyes
So when I’m asked what it’s like to be a published author the majority of the time, I can already see the expectations of what that person wants to hear based on the stereotypes (and myths) of being an author. But unlike the how-are-you question, me just saying ‘good’ doesn’t suffice.
They want to hear about all the fame and fortune!
And my excessive riches!
And my hidden, raunchy tales of my ‘adventurous’ life.
(I watched three episodes of Californication after someone followed me around for three hours asking questions about my life as an author after Google-stalking me and telling me how much he loved that show and it was one of his favorites, and thereafter, I became legitimately embarrassed to tell anyone I was a writer, due to the show depicting a writer in a drink-and-drug induced porn-type lifestyle. Only then did I realize why he was so fascinated with me and asking so many personal questions while I was trying to work. On the plus side, he was the annual health inspector that passed us with flying colors).
It’s almost amusing the amount of ways that a person can attempt to ask you about your finances without them thinking they’re being obvious. No One asks about my finances when they learn I’m a single Mom without knowing about the author thing, because they know I’m friggin’ broke, but as soon as the author-thing comes up, I’m suddenly bathed in wealth and riches.
They’ll see my 88 beat-up Plymouth and laugh and say, “I see you like old cars.” Yeah, buddy, it’s a passion of mine to drive a car with no power steering, no air-conditioning, no heat, with a radio that can’t get any stations, that is leaking everywhere but … oh, wait, nevermind, that’s leaking too. OR
“So, why are you working here, then? Just to make some extra cash? Or are you working on a story?” wink wink. No, actually, I just love being a manager at a pizza place making minimum wage and doing deliveries with my above-listed car while my daughter sits home alone at night and I have to constantly fear someone breaking into the house or the house burning down. Truth be told, I WAS also working on my ‘Pizza Girl Chronicles’ story.
‘I’m an undercover operative working at a pizza place. The pizza place is called ‘The Pizza Place’.’
Some will be more direct and just say, “So you must be rolling in the dough, hah?” with a casual chuckle. Yeah, pizza dough and playdough.
“Something like that,” is my typical proper-etiquette response.
So the answer to that question of What it’s like to be a published author? My first true answer: When you have more people trying to figure out how much money you’re making and trying to figure out if you’re famous than asking what your books are about, what your life is like, or who you are as a person, it can be pretty discouraging.
|Me just a normal, regular person|
Prior to being an out-of-the-closet published author (I kept it secret for many, many years), I’d had the typical life of a single female that had to worry about whether guys were interested in ME or – well, you know – and whether girls were my actual friend or just my to-my-face friend, but not behind-my-back friend. I dealt with standard jealousies of male and female insecurities. Before I went public, I never had to worry about people being interested in me for money or for fame, because people saw me as I was – a single Mom, working 2-3 jobs, writing & freelancing on the side, doing what everyone does to financially survive, but as one person, not two, in a state where the average income (and therefore prices) is based on two people, not one. Before I went public, I never had to worry about being exploited by strangers in a way meant to sabotage my life or destroy my reputation or hurt me.
After I went public, everything changed, from the VERY moment I went public. When I had people that I thought were my friends suddenly acting like we’re boyfriend and girlfriend in public, which can be extremely awkward when someone’s invading your personal space, but they’re your friend, so you don’t want to hurt their feelings and publicly humiliate them, but at the same time, you’re trying to keep yourself from publicly humiliating yourself and crying, because you know that they’re grabbing your hand and putting their arm around you and suddenly trying to kiss you so as to be part of spotlight. One that doesn’t even exist.
As soon as the news went out, a close immediate family member of mine whom had nothing to do with me for years suddenly called me asking for money. Let me rephrase that – he inferred I owed him money for having to put up with me as a child and help pay for things, like the glasses that allowed me to no longer be legally-blind after 7 years of being legally-blind, failing kindergarten, and having everyone think I was mentally retarded versus blind.
I started getting friend requests left and right, not knowing the difference between a fan, someone I may have gone to school with or worked with (I went to 7 schools, 3 colleges, and previously I mentioned I’ve moved over 30 times and have had almost 40 jobs, so there’s probably a good 100,000 people at least that know me from one of the above-listed), or someone just assuming I was rich and famous and wanting in on it.
And I had those whom had nothing to do with me for years, decades even, suddenly take an interest.
The most heart-breaking was having those I loved become resentful and turn on me, like I no longer belonged, even though I was the same people. And I emphasize on was, because I am no longer, but it wasn’t being a published author that changed me, because I’d already been a published author for a decade. It was people’s negative reactions to me once I went public that changed me.
The most ridiculous of events that occurred were those that went after me for money, assuming I was loaded. One attempted to get me to pay him $5,000 by blackmailing me with bad reviews on all my books, claiming I ‘stole’ his work, in order to get his 5 grand. Fortunately, I have some basic legal knowledge, since previously I was going for a joint Ph.D in Psychology and J.D in law (another story), so I was able to get it to stop, but not before damage had already been done.
My first coming-out pic
So when the stereotypes of authors reveal them to be withdrawn, more reserved, introverted – like mice that just run out to get their meal and return to the hole in the wall. When they reveal authors to be uppity, snooty-like, and acting like they’re ‘above and more superior’ than others, incapable of casual interaction, it’s not because that’s how authors actually are as people. It’s because of the other stereotypes of authors being rich and famous that attracts the wrong kind of attention that leads authors to have to withdraw themselves from the world, to be afraid of people, to stay in the confines of their safe place instead of going out in public. And that uppity, snooty-like, superior stereotype follows the stereotype of what people expect. Because you’re no longer a person and human being. You’re a published author. That means you’re not normal and you’re not like everyone else in the world and you don’t have normal problems or a normal life and that’s how people treat you. You’re either monumentalized as rich and famous and amazing or you’re the target of the worst of people’s jealousies and the type of ugliness that only jealousy can cause.
So what’s it like to be a published author, Part I?
Stick around for Part II and I’ll tell you the perks!