Do I really want to be a writer . . . ?

Before I wrote my first book I spent a number of years writing essays and feature articles for magazines and newspapers. The editors I connected with, almost without exception, welcomed my writing about the Ozarks. I grew used to seeing my byline in print.

Then came my first book. It was non-fiction, a collection of previously published pieces, plus new writing and a story line. This recording of the Nehring’s transition from too-busy city career people to Ozarks homestead dwellers became “DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow. ”

The book sold to a publisher in 1993.   In 1995 my first book appeared in hard cover.

Now, what?  Back then a platform was “raised flooring or stage for speakers, performers, or workers to use.” Or it could be “a declaration of principles by a group–such as a political party.”  Back then, a platform had nothing to do with my work as a writer. Back then I wasn’t even sure what part I was supposed to play in promoting my new book, other than a dim thought about going to bookstores in my area for signings.

But my publisher and editor did know.  I had a publicist assigned to me. I got suggestions for signing locations, appointments with radio talk show hosts, shipments of publicity packets, posters,  and flyers.  Ads for my book and reviews in important places appeared magically. I admit that, during this time, I felt as if I were standing aside, watching the world of promotion build around me. I did what I was told, and little more.  (I have often wondered if my publisher wanted to kick me in the behind. I’ve been afraid to ask, but we are still friends.)

Slowly I learned that I was an important part of a promotion team, but, even then, the work was far from stressful. I made new connections. I worked with friends I had already made through my work  for both print and broadcast media.  (In addition to my writing, I researched, wrote, and performed a fifteen-minute radio program about the Ozarks for ten years.) I had signings in bookstores I already knew well as fulfillment sources for my reading addiction.

Skip to 2012 — seventeen years and seven books later. Up early and in my office to check e-mail because early morning is the best time to make connection on our feeble Internet. We still live in Spring Hollow amid a forest. Satellite is unreliable and expensive. There is no DSL, no cable, no high-speed anything. Cell phones don’t work here. For years we suffered with dial-up Internet, and a couple of years ago, the availability of Verizon MiFi seemed a miracle. What we didn’t know (and the salesman didn’t tell  us) is that we are on the very edge of their coverage area. For large files or sending photographs, we have to drive nearer the Verizon tower to access a good connection. Forget U-Tube, video files, or even time to connect to many sites I want to be part of.

The need to promote has exploded, but not my ability to do it. On a good day I spend an hour or more in my office waiting for connections, twiddling with the computer and Verizon card to wake them up.  That’s time I can’t devote to writing or anything else.  I barely manage to receive and comment on blogs, take part in groups, read lists, click on posts of interest, mentor other writers, and initiate or respond to e-mail.

I’m still in my office when it’s time to think about supper.  (I usually work through lunch time.)  Probably partly because he gets hungry,  my dear husband has become adept at heating prepared food or left-overs.

My next novel (number eight in my mystery series) is bobbing around inside my head. I like what I am holding on to there.

I love writing of all types. I enjoy writing this blog. But, something has to give if I am going to start that novel, and people are already asking for it.

Where will I find time to begin Chapter One?


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