This week I've been adding a few scenes to book that I've made much ado about this week. It's been strange. My husband walking around with his chest poked out and telling everybody, and I do mean everybody, that his wife got a book deal. Obviously, it's a slow news life around here.
I had another fibromyalgia/migraine-whatever-fresh-hell-my-body-doles-out-day today. So, I begged someone to take me to my doctors office because I felt too weak to go on the bus, and besides, it really bites to be sick and go to the doctor on the bus. I get there, and she's so kind and sympathetic, and there's not much she can do, so she ends up giving me a shot in my butt, and I do have to take the bus home, and go all loopy, and dreamy, and medicated.
So much for working on the book.
I decide to finish reading a book I started a few weeks ago, The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn. It's a good story. It is in turn, funny, and sad, troubling, and hopeful. I have mixed feelings about it. I looked a few times at the author on the back. She's Janis Hallowell.
And then, as my self-absorbed nature dictates, I thought about me.
Dear Lord. My photo on the back of a book. Do I go with my thoughtful picture, the one on the ol' raga-d blog here? With my face raised a bit, maybe to God, eh? And that cool light that Ken photoshopped behind me. How 'bout the picture with me smiling on the Alive site. It has that mudcloth in the background that used to cover my bedroom window until it got too hot, and now a rainbow colored sari covers it. Honestly, I like the sari better. And my smile looks forced on that picture. But they seem to like it. How 'bout that strange Chrismation miracle photo that I have seen all kinds of places. It has a life of it's own that picture, and seems to be the only worthwhile contribution that I've made to the Orthodox Church, and what's worse, the first thing that comes to mind when I see that picture now is HOW BIG MY BUTT LOOKS!!!! HOW BIG IT ACTUALLY IS!!!! I know, that's a horrible admission, but it's the truth, Lord have mercy on my soul.
God forbid that I take a picture with these blondilocks. And my nose stud. Twenty pounds heavier and salty as hell about that. I don't know. I don't really want to think about author photos, or marketing, and promotions and covers. I'm a little bit scared of all this. It was a lot easier being a ragamuffin diva. I just showed up and told stories. I liked that somebody read them. I liked that somebody liked them enough to show up again, and again. You know, I wouldn't write if nobody read. It's like a trade off. I don't care what they say, all writers need readers. They don't need money as much as they need readers. I wrote with no money, but no readers and the story shrivels and dies because all stories need those that have ears to hear. Eyes to see, and hearts wide open allowing for the possibility a story gives them to become something other than they were before they read.
When I was a girl, I think I had that teen laziness and I didn't write much, but I had this friend, Keysha. She was a few years younger than me. Prettiest thing you'd ever want to see. Long, black wavy hair. Just amazing. Her brother had a crush on me, but when he took me home I met my family, and I still love them all like that, but I haven't seen them for awhile. I used to tell Keysha my stories. Whole novels spinning off my tongue, and we would sit together for hours cocooned in a girlish story world. This was in the early eighties, just when crack cocaine exploded into our neighborhood leaving all kinds of bodies in it's wake. It was just before the gunshots and sirens every night. It was when we still had our innocence, in as much as you can have that in the ghetto. It was a sweet time, that kept us out of trouble. Me, and Keysha, and stories. It was magic.
I would do this if I didn't have a contract, and you know what, I don't ever want to lose that innocence. I want a good deal, sure. I have a big family, and my husband is disabled. Truth be told, I'm disabled, too. I just don't get a social security check. The money is a blessing (well, it will be. It hasn't reached us yet), but I don't want to lose the love I have of a good story, skillfully told. Words strung together, creating worlds where people feel so real that you want to pick up the phone and call them. A few hours of fun, where you can count on things being a little neater than real life. I'll take a cheap read if it's a good story. I can't resist a good story. It doesn't have to be a nobel prize winners think piece.
I've had these lofty thoughts of sales numbers and Christy nominations, but you know what, it doesn't really matter. I'll tell you a secret, and don't tell my agent, but I'd be happy as Christmas Eve if I was a dime store novelist and all I did was write silly love stories that went out of print the month after they hit the stands and nobody ever remembered my name. As long as somebody got a little bit of joy, and a little bit of happiness in those 270 pages I put together. I'd be thrilled to spin a soft cloth around some soul to keep them warm when life gets a little cool, or downright cold. That's all. God, I'd like to take care of my family, and I'd like to tell stories. It's not much to ask.
The thing is, I can ask, but I don't know what God will do. I say, what if I can't work because I'm getting sicker and sicker? What if I have to get on disability, and nobody sends me big checks for books, ever again? Donna told me that I have to keep my arms open, ready to take what God wants to give me, and ready to let go of what God takes back. He can take it all back if He wills. He's God, and I'm just His ragamuffin, but even if He takes it back, and a day comes when big announcements and author photos and thoughts of awards and dreams of a writers life fade like the scent of a plucked flower, I will remember, God willing, how magical it was to sit here, and tell a tale, a give a little bit of happiness, and a little bit of hope where there is so much darkness, and so much pain.
I don't know what these changes in my life will bring. I'm taking a deep breath, opening those arms, and we'll see. But if it all falls apart, as longs as I am here, and there is a Google and Blogger, you'll find me here. Telling tales. Talking about Jesus. Listening for the sounds of your voices saying, "Yeah. I hear you."
Thanks for coming,
I love you,