Category Archives: Being a “Real Author”

So You’re an Author, Now What? The Drinking Game, Round 1

Someone once pointed out that, not getting a paycheck biweekly or a promotion or a bonus, it’s hard to know when to celebrate successes in my job. Say what? So I created this. Because I’m a boozer and life should be a drinking game.

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In case you didn’t know, this is champagne. It’s labeled so we know it’s real.

Drink…

-the first time you’re published. And drink hard because that’s amazing.

-the third time you’re published because doing something once is amazing, but doing something three times is becoming a habit.

-the first time you get paid. That’s validation and a beer!

-the first time you get paid more than $5.

-the first time you get a personalized rejection. C’mon, that feels almost as good as  an acceptance

-the first time you come out in print. Actually, take that mag and have a whole drinking party with it. Get wasted together and caress it and love it, and then wake up in the morning after you’ve spilled all over it and wonder what has become of your life. Return whatever nominal fee you may have been paid getting another copy. (Or, you know, be smart and put that sucker under glass when it comes in.)

-when you get paid over $100. Now you can afford a drink and a meal!

-every time you hit a factor of five from here on out. The fifth time. The tenth time. The fifteenth time. You get the picture. And if you’re bad at math, because we’re writers, drink every time! This’ll get the party going.

-get totally wasted the first time you finish a novel draft. In the morning, you can hate yourself and your writing.

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This beer’s having an existential crisis, just like you.

I’m a Real Writer

I should write some meditative piece about how it feels to finally be published in a lit mag, but I have nothing incredible to say besides this:

It feels awesome.

Seriously, if this is your dream, go forth and achieve because even at this baby step, the validation for the effort is incredible.

Read the story here: http://www.bodypartsmagazine.com/5-grave-photographs-by-kl-morris.html

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Graphic courtesy of the awesome folks at Body Parts Magazine.

In case you’re curious, my favorite snippet-as-synopsis is:

“Candy Kent, I solemnly swear that I have no intention of raping you.”

I like their choice, too.

 

 

Well, I Author’d the Shit Out of That

Part I: The Request

I get one little publication credit, and I upgrade myself from ‘writer’ to ‘author’. See how that goes?

Along with the story, the amazing people at Body Parts Magazine asked if I had an author photo, and all hell broke loose. The crazy came out. I mean, top level insanity here.

Like every hopeful author, I’d spent my life studying author photos, judging them, and dreaming up the perfect one. Of course, I never took any actionable steps to achieve the Perfect Author Photo because that would mean jinxing any possibility of getting published. (Preparing for something means it won’t happen, obviously.)

So when Body Parts emailed me asking for one, I said I would totally get them one that week, like the professional I am. Then I spent most of the week flipping through old social media profile pics wondering why I’m so un-photogenic and such a nerd.

Then: lightning bolt moment. I have a fancy camera! I’ll do this myself. (Because doing something well without ever practicing has always worked out.)

Part II: The Set Up

I globbed on the makeup, fiddled with the camera settings, and sat in some sunlight. Then. Selfie time. And I ended up with what I thought were some kickass photos. So I shared them, which turned out to be my mistake.

“You look like an old, hardened woman.” –My Mom

“Uh. I think you look hot? Sexy, maybe?” –My Sister

“Did you intend to look pissy? Because if that was your intention, right on!” –My Friend who is a Model

“Why aren’t you smiling? You should be smiling at least a little bit.” –Assorted Friends

“Hot damn. That is my sexy wife.” –My Tall Person (who has been taught to say such things)

Part III: The Meltdown

I spent three full days wondering if I had a sort of face dysmorphia where what I saw in the photos wasn’t what other people saw. I mean, I was looking at the version of myself I always wanted to exist, and people were recoiling from it. This chick in the photo was somebody I wanted to be, and nobody else liked her. What did they say about me? About what I wanted and who I aspired to be?

And then one of my friends said, “But as long as you like it, that’s all that matters.” And that’s when I realized it. In my line of work, that isn’t true.

Part IV: The Overthink

It doesn’t matter if I like what I write. What matters is whether the reader responds it. Of course I write what I enjoy, or what I would want to read, but at the end of the day, that isn’t enough. If I bring a piece to workshop and they tell me it’s failing, I have to listen. If I don’t, I’ll be hanging onto an unsuccessful piece.

In the case of the photo, what I wanted to know was how people were responding to it. It wasn’t a picture of me, your friend, daughter, sister. It was a picture of a person who wrote a story. Does that picture make you want to know more about them? Find them on Twitter? Connect with them? Seek out their work? Does it jive with what I wrote or enhance it? It’s just about the only visual aid my short story’s going to get online, so it had better be doing something. Just sitting there looking pretty isn’t enough.

And, I think, that’s what my friends and family wanted. They wanted a picture of me that conveyed good ol’, amicable (if slightly moody), me. And this picture wasn’t it. It was a little pissy, a little edgy, a little intimidating. It wasn’t neat, and it wasn’t necessarily someone you’d want to be friends with. It wasn’t me.

But in some ways it was the me that wrote the story. It was the me the way I saw myself as a writer. That vision, that edgy, intimidating self was there. It had been built up through years of looking at author photos—my own persona (though not in person, never in person, because I will never be able to shed my awkward, goofy self). But on a jacket cover? As a profile pic? Yes. That’s me the writer.

The whole meltdown could have been avoided if I’d thought before I shot. What do you want this picture to say? What do you want it to achieve? How do you want the viewer to respond? The same way I think about short stories. Then, based on the feedback I got, I could have seen if it was working or not. And then I could have decided if I wanted to change my approach. Since I dove in headfirst, jumping from fifteen minutes of selfie to “Look at me! Did it work?” without ever wondering what working would look like, I ended up with a jumble of responses and thoughts, none of which were what I was expecting.

It’s very possible this is a long and convoluted way of saying, “Set your expectations and know them before you check to see if they’re met.”

But that’s how an author author’s. What do I want to achieve? How do I achieve it? Now write it. Then check with readers to see how they’re responding and rewrite.

The collision came from how other’s view me and how I viewed myself, a dichotomy I could have been saved from me had I acknowledged it.

The ‘P’ Word

I got married last year, go me! Attended a wedding this weekend for a cousin of mine. On the drive up, I got some really amazing news. Totally elated, I sort of screamed my Tall Guy’s ear off and nearly made him drive us off the road when I lurched over for a kiss/hug combo. Excitement’s a deadly thing, guys.

At the Welcome-Out-of-Towners Party (my family has them, it’s a thing), I ran up to people, hugged them, and squealed, “Guess what you just hugged?”

If I paused too long between the “Guess what you just hugged?” and the answer, I got this:

“Two people! You’re pregnant!”

I see how they got there, but, um. No.

“I’m published!” I screamed. And usually, people went with the excitement and did the scream-dance with me, or laughed at me while I did. Some people even got the news secondhand and came over to scold me for not telling them in person, which was awesome.

But there were some people who’s eyes dimmed a little after they found out there was no burgeoning life in my womb. Whose chosen ‘P’ word could in no way compete with the real ‘P’ word. And to these people, I’d like to say, “My uterus has been fully functional since I was eleven. You never asked about pregnancy then. You’re right, I’m married. And I still remember everything I knew about birth control from the pre-married days. Butt out of my birth canal, babies. And get excited that this amazing woman in front of you is getting PUBLISHED.”

Instead, I just ran off and found someone else to tell.