where the writers are
Here's To Those of Us Not Quite Famous
graduation and summer 027.jpg

Okay, here I am.  I am a working writer, not heralded by The San Francisco Chronicle or The New York Times.  So what that I have nine published novels, 10, 11, and 12 in the can.  It actually isn't that big of a deal.  There are numerous writers out there doing their thing, writing books, hoping that maybe one day they can quit teaching that extra class.

But that's not me yet.

So what does a not famous writer do?

She writes.  When I was learning how to write fiction, Annie Lamott taught me to write 300 words a day.  She said,"Write 300 words a day, and in a year, you have a novel."

This is true advice.  I've written all those novels that way.

So I sit down each morning and write my 300 words.  Maybe I will do laundry and vacuum.  Of course, there is the working out, the fight against flab.  Then I go to work and teach.  I teach for two colleges, Diablo Valley College and UCLA Extension.  I work with people struggling to get their ideas down on paper.  I talk a lot about process and hard work and sometimes, I get amazing ideas from them.  It's good, hard, wonderful work. 

I also have a life.  Kids and a love and a house.  I have friends and family and a mom.  Do I have to say more?

Sometimes, really amazing fun things happen.  I get a great letter via email.  Someone asks me to speak to their group.  I get nice checks that allow me to put my youngest son through college.  I can pay my lawyer for my divorce.  I know these aren't small things.

And can I tell you about the boots I just bought!  Three and a half inch heels!  Yikes.

But I am not like many of the folks on this site.  I'm a not famous writer. I don't get noticed by most of my local papers.  It's probably a miracle I was allowed to be listed here at all.

Okay, I hope I don't sound like I'm whining. Whining is gross.  But sometimes I think people have strange ideas about writers.  Once when I was at a reading in Roseville, CA, a woman stared at me before I began reading.  I mean, bug eyes.  I finally said, "Hi."

She nodded, swallowed, and said, "You aren't like all the writers I've read about.  You aren't crazy.  And you aren't drunk."

And there you have it.

Jessica

Comments
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you go, girl!

Thanks for this brave, honest, and funny (and whine-free, I assure you) post. Congrats to you and your son on his graduation!   It's human nature to wish for more success than we have, and to also sometimes later wish we'd been more careful about wishing for that. There are many writers reading your post who might be thinking, "at least she's seen her novel published! Ten novels published, with a demand for more!" And some who might be thinking, "Oh, God, she's so lucky not to have the cruel jaws of fame nipping at her heels, weighing down her pen with the pressure of expectations! It's enough to drive you crazy, drive you to drink, oh yes!"    But your wry post shows you knew that already... Sounds like you know how to really own those high heels. Strut, strut, strut...   And no matter how many people are watching for you to trip, if you do stumble, just laugh it off and keep on strutting.    All the best,   

Naomi from Red Room

p.s.  As a matter of fact, you have been heralded by the San Francisco Chronicle, we all have, today, in fact: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/08/DDD9U9GHI.DTL

 

 

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yeah, I know

Hi, Naomi--I know that I have so much to be grateful for in terms of writing.  I thank goodness every day that I DO get to sit down right here and write away!I am blessed, writing is a wonderful job, and I appreciate it so much.

I also really love this site and am appreciative of it.  So thank you all.  And the article was fabulous!  How amazing to get on the cover of the datebook section. 

 Thanks for the reply.

 Best,

Jessica

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hey there

yo, jessica, nice to see you here. I just sent in my app. to this site . hope all is going well for you (sounds as though it is.)
but those boots. GIRL! can you walk?
xxxMaryanne Stahl

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Hey!!

Maryanne!

How are you?  What have you been up to, doing, writing?  Now that you and I have both parted NAL ways, we have lost touch.

This site is fabulous.  I really like the blog, the graphics, the accessibility.  I am glad you will be joining us all here.

Hope all is well, and let me know how things is.

Best,

J