When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

I knew from the first moment I looped twist ties through a thick stack of notebook paper with the edges still frayed that I wanted to be a writer. There was this feverish excitement to watch written words come alive. And when you’re six years old and add a few pictures sketched and colored with Crayola crayons, well you might as well be a NYTBSA.

Yep, six years old with these characters that seemed to come from nowhere. They were my creation, my friends and once they were out on paper they were no longer imaginary, they were real people.amazing_silhouette_photograph_14

I started telling anyone who would listen that I was going to be an author when I grew up. I was going to write fiction. I don’t know where I got such a big, complex dreams but it seemed I knew and understood them intuitively.

After a few years I stopped this ridiculous confession because as I looked around no one in my circle of influence was talking about writing books and authors and such. Do those people even get paid? What would you even write?

By sixth grade grownups were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. By the looks on their faces I knew it had to be something that required college and a degree I could hang on the wall in my office.

When I grow up I want to be a psychologist.

When I said this people drew in long breaths and smiled with admiration. Psychologists were smart people. Educated folk, they said. This was a wise choice. With a clear head and a dedication to school I could become that or even an accountant. You see my Daddy said I should become an accountant and I could, once I learned how to be good with numbers. His brown eyes let up as if he could see it in his mind’s eyes.

Yes, I would be either a psychologist or an accountant as Daddy suggested.

My father worked at General Motors for 30 years. On the, weekends he wrote and read every day, for hours. About a year after he retired he died. After his death we found piles of notebooks filled with his writings. I wonder if anyone ever asked him what he wanted to be? I wonder when he sat in the big chair with his tall legs crossed looking over his bifocals writing in those notepads did he ever wish he could do that all day?

Well, I went to college and graduated with honors.  I got a Bachelor’s in Journalism so at least I would be sure to get paid if I just insisted on writing.

I don’t quite remember when my dream to become a fiction writer began to die. I suppose it was a slow process, like someone who is terminally ill and finally stops struggling against the inevitable. It’s almost a relief just to give in. There’s a feeling of satisfying indolence when you’re no longer struggling. I guess that must be what a physical death feels like.

When dreams die, they usually die young.

They die in the womb; at the point when they should be cared for the most, tended to to  make sure the roots are strong.  They don’t usually die brutally; but go the way of neglect. We stop speaking over them, we don’t feed them anymore. We smother them with the expectations from others, disappointments and fears we’ve learned from our environment and all the lies we tell ourselves.

Eventually, as a young woman, I discovered this little seed; hidden and long forgotten.  Stories played in my head, like when I was six. They needed to be recorded.

Whenever there is something still alive there is hope.

Not all dreams die young. Some dreams just refuse to die.

Should new writers do book signings?

Every author at one time has dreamed of their great book signing. It plays in our head like book-signingsomething from a movie: hard covered copies of our book stacked on the table on either side of us. There may be a person or two there to help us, you know…crowd control. And we are ready.

As the signing begins a line stretched down the aisle has gathered; so engrossed are we in scribbling our name across book after book we barely have time to look up except to flash a proud smile and gush at the plethora of compliments our fans insists on heralding upon us. This is the moment we have longed for. This is the life of an author.

Well, then we attend a few signings of other authors and then a few more and realize these fan crazed events only happen for a select few–those whose names top the NYTBS regularly. Even some of our favorite authors don’t get this kind of turn out, at least not in every city. And for the rest of us, plugging along, well…

I once heard a well-known marketing expert say that new authors should not give book signings. She goes on to say that there is nothing sadder than a newbie sitting there with a stack of books as people walk by with barely a glance. Many don’t acknowledge you at all.

I suggest to you that this belief has much truth in it. When I decided to do my first book signing I was somewhat concerned about this advice. But then I decided my mission would more than just to sell books and therefore my expectation became a little different. And if you are not yet a well-known author your mission must be different too. Here are my suggestions if you do decide to have a traditional book signing.

Brand your area

If you are not well-known at least look the part. Hang a large colorful banner with a picture of you and your book cover. Make your area presentable, standing some of your books upright. Have a couple of giveaways on your table such as bookmarks with your name and a picture of your book included somewhere on it; bring along branded pens or bags. And don’t forget press releases.

Bring or invite a few friends to hang out with you

Yep, sitting there alone isn’t very cool. Invite or bring along a few friends to create a hub of sorts. They will not only give you support but will also fill in the white space between visitors.

Smile and look active

If you look as though you’re waiting on something you’re not getting you will be perceived as such. Smile and look as though you are the one to know.

Greet and be personable with all who approach your table

Some will come and pick up your book and you may be thinking, O.K., dude you don’t even look like you read my genre. Keep moving. But you may find out his neighbor was just saying the other day she was looking for a good read (something like yours). Also you want to be perceived as personable and engaging (You are not Harper Lee and therefore not in the position to refuse to be sociable with those who reach out to you).

Include a guest book

Anyone who wants to sign your guestbook should be able to. Allow them to leave an email address for your newsletter if they desire.

Combine your signing with that of another author

They say there is strength in numbers. By combining a signing with other authors both or all of you get the benefit of the clout of each other. Also, it allows you to build relationships with other authors.

The bottom line is you may not sell or sign a truckload of books, therefore go with different goals in mind; prepare to gain exposure for yourself and your book. Some won’t remember you, but others will. At my signing for In Three Days, I had some people who approached the table and did not buy but left their personal information because they love to read and talk about books. They wanted to be added to the email list. One guy was a writer of short stories and I promised to read some of his work. I had an opportunity to connect with the people who worked there as well. I realized as with anything, you sell yourself first and then everything else will follow.

Also an option to the signing is a book launch party, which is more like a celebration, a party of sorts to celebrate you and your milestone. Of course there will be books to sign, but the main goal is to meet, greet and celebrate. I will be having one in a few weeks. I will let you know how that goes.

What do you do when love isn’t enough?

What do you do when love isn’t enough?

There was a couple struggling to keep their marriage together. They’d had counseling, tried to revive their romance and nothing, absolutely nothing seemed to be working. The Valentine-8husband was discussing his relationship with a friend. And the friend asked if he stilled loved his wife. To which he replied ‘Yes, I do.’ And then after thinking about it some more the husband says to his friend, ‘What do you do when love isn’t enough?’

It would be amazing to think that the foundation of all healthy and sound relationships isn’t…enough. Well what do you do when love isn’t enough?

I say that it is always enough. Love perfected is all you will ever need for a healthy and happy relationship. It is not that something is lacking in love, but that something is lacking in us.

The question becomes is that person the one to whom you want to give it all too? Are they worth it? Deserving? Do we trust them with all of us? Will they trample on the best part of us or misuse the greatest gift of all?

When you trust someone with all of you are, when you love them completely and wholly, yes, it is enough. According to scripture, love:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. (I Cor. 13:3-7)

Yes, that is a lot! But it is love in its purest form. When you love someone in this manner, it is more than enough. But when we shrink back because we don’t trust or believe or aren’t ready to give our all, well, that’s another issue altogether. If you are not ready to love so fiercely for whatever reason, that’s cool too, but you really can’t blame it on love.