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Author Events, the Good & the Bad

Recently I was lucky enough to attend an author event for Judy Blume hosted by Books & Books in Coral Gables. I was excited to meet such a famous author. I loved reading “Forever” when I was in middle school. I attended this event with one of my best friends who was as excited as I was. Reading Judy Blume had a big impact on us.Screenshot_2015-06-25-16-28-49-1

However when we got there we found it was to be an interview. Of course we knew this in advance but I hadn’t thought this could be a bad thing. An interview is only as interesting as the questions being asked. I also find the questions to be a reflection of the interviewer and what they open to gain from that person.

Once the interviewer was done with her questions the floor was opened up to the audience for questions. However as each person stepped forward to ask their question they all opened with their own life story and how Judy Blume impacted them. I absolutely understand this connection with authors whose books have meant so much to us as readers. I have my own list of authors I want to fan girl over.

But there is a time and place for this and it isn’t a public forum. In fact I would say the best time is at the end of the event when she is signing copies of her book. But her event was so packed we didn’t have the chance to speak with her. She had to sign quickly and move on. All in all I feel like I didn’t get to hear much from Judy Blume which was disappointing. She is just too famous.

To compare:

I attended an author event for Carl Hiaasen (also hosted by Books & Books). He is another author I want to fan girl over. Hiaasen had prepared a speech which talked about his new book a bit but mostly felt like an accumulation of his thoughts. I remember laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face. This was a true reflection of the author and what he wanted to share with us in that moment.

Afterwards we gathered to have our books Screenshot_2015-06-25-16-40-21-1signed. We didn’t feel rushed or pressured to let the next person in. We were able to exchange a few words with Carl Hiaasen and each person could get something out of him that they might not have gotten out of his speech.

Both of these author events were great. They were very different and I think it boils down to how famous the author is. The less famous authors can give you a more personal event, the more famous authors must cater to a larger crowd making the event feel impersonal.

Take the opportunity when you can to go to smaller author events it is a great experience whether you’re a writer yourself or a reader.

Different Paths

My main goal has always been to be a writer and to publish a bestseller, (Insert Laugh Here) but I’m not so naive. I know it could take years. So when I graduated college I knew I needed to find a real job to support myself. I wanted to chose a job I would enjoy. So eventually I decided on publishing. I love books and reading so this seemed like the natural choice.

I landed on this idea and got stuck like a bug in glue. It never even occurred to me that I could 2015-06-07 22.06.08do anything else. Or that I should do something else. As graduation grew closer I became more and more concerned with finding a job after college. I polished off my resume, wrote several cover letters, and updated my LinkedIn account.

What I wasn’t entirely aware of was how competitive publishing jobs are. It doesn’t help that I live in South Florida, not New York. Why should a company bring me in from out of state when there are hundreds of graduates ready to take the job located in the area.

I was fortunate enough to speak to an editor currently living in New York, Jim Thomas. He gave me a lot of great information and advice about publishing and New York until I let it slip that I really wanted to be a writer. “Well that’s an entirely different conversation.” He said. He continued by saying go be a waitress.

Obviously he did not mean I should literally be a waitress, or maybe he did. He clarified and told me that if I became an editor I would become so busy reading manuscripts and editing that  by the end of the day I would come home and likely be unmotivated to write.

I was shocked by this and frankly in denial. “I can do it” was the thought that stuck with me. As time passed I was forced to take a different job. However my focus has still been about getting to New York. I decided I was going to save my money and just move there.

I have been working 40 hour weeks. A normal work week for most. However I am finding it difficult to get any writing done. I am too tired. I can’t focus. If I can’t keep up with my writing Screenshot_2015-06-07-22-16-22-1in this environment how am I to do it in New York. I do well under pressure but I am not a miracle worker.

A friend of mine suggested that maybe what I need to do is find a job with a high hourly rate. This way I could work fewer hours and spend more time writing. I would also still be able to support myself. At first I brushed it off. The thought stuck with me. It wasn’t such a bad idea. Of course this is easier said than done. I don’t know what job this might be but now my eyes are opened to it. I am once again focusing on being a writer.

Open your eyes to the possibility of a different path, but never lose sight of what you really want.

Writing by Hand

One of the great things about being a writer is that there is no one way to write the story. Whether you mean how you physically write it or how the story itself is developed by the writer. When I am under the crunch of a deadline I tend to type my stories because I need to get it written quickly. (I also find I work better under pressure)Screenshot_2015-05-25-21-47-49-1

However I also find that I enjoy writing my stories by hand. When I’m working on a story I’ll get so excited that I type as quickly as possible. I then find that i have skipped details and left things out because I’m really writing them in my mind. (Can’t the reader psychically know this?)

So I’ve started forcing myself to write some of my stories by hand. (The ones that aren’t under the pressure of a deadline). I have discovered that when I write by hand I am forcing myself to go slower. To take my time and focus on the details of the story. It also gives me more time to think about what’s about the happen next in the story.

To add to this I write almost entirely in cursive. (This is becoming a lost skill which makes me sad) Many people, I think, will agree that cursive is a pretty flowing script. This became reflected in the language of my writing. I was using a slightly different language and voice. This  took me by surprise until I recalled a teacher suggesting we try writing in different way. I now know why she said this.

What I have learned from this I would like to pass along to anyone who may be interested. Change your writing. Speed up, slow down. Type it, hand write. Change your handwriting. You’ll find the writing itself may change in some way. Imagine what kind of handwriting your character has. Can you write like this? This could make the character’s voice even stronger. You won’t know until you try. Try something new!