Have you noticed I don’t talk too much about my writing these days?
Well, it might be because I’m not doing much writing these days. Or it might
be because I’m pretty much “talked out” about the writing business. For years
I answered the same old questions in interviews—where do you get your ideas?
What’s your writing schedule like? What advice do you have for new writers
just starting out? And of course, the # 1 hated question—how do you get published?
Lord, I wish I had a pat answer for that one. Even better, a magic pill!
That’s what new writers are looking for, after all—the magic pill, word, advice,
answer, secret key—to get them published. The truth is, of course, there’s
not one. If there was, believe me, I wouldn’t be looking for a publisher for
my new novel. Publishers would be coming to me.
But I don’t want to talk about that today. I want to talk about why I don’t
talk much about writing anymore. It’s because I used to be obsessed
with my writing career—even before there was a writing career. Back
in the 80’s & 90’s, I was driven to find success as a writer. Little did
I know it, but I already was a success; I just refused to believe that.
I sold my first article in 1985. And by 1990, I’d sold enough short stories
and articles that I was actually making a profit with writing. But because
I seemed to be getting nowhere selling a novel, I refused to believe I was successful.
Then finally, it happened. In 1998, I sold
BORDER CROSSINGS to a major New York house. It came out in hardcover
in 1999, and in paperback in 2000. Do you think I, at last, considered myself
a success? Well, no, I didn’t. My publisher sent me on a book tour with
several romance authors, most of them established authors who’d been around for
years and had plenty of fans. And because I didn’t have any fans lined up
at my book signing table, and they did, I felt like I was a dismal failure.
This became a trend as the years passed. I kept publishing books, but instead
of enjoying my success, I stressed out over sales figures, Amazon rankings, and
whether or not a book store stocked my books. In other words, I didn’t enjoy
the ride. And then, in 2003, it all went to hell in a hand basket. After
the publication of my fourth novel, UNDERSTUDY,
my editor left my publisher, and all my in-house support disappeared. They
canceled the publication of the paperback, and my career at the Big Guns in Manhattan
came to an abrupt end. Most of you know what happened after that. I
was relegated to publishing with small presses to get my work out into the world—needless
to say, that wasn’t the way to go because nobody could find my books. And
that’s where I am today—starting all over, shopping my new manuscript to publishers
and agents in New York. Just like a new writer.
But I have a whole different attitude these days. No longer is it a matter
of life or death if I don’t get a New York publisher. In this economic climate,
that may be impossibility. And if it is, I’ll do one of two things—wait until
times are better, or go ahead and self-publish--something the old me would never
have considered. Now, it’s not looking like such a bad idea. But we’ll
see what the future holds.
The point is…no matter what happens, I’m happy with my life now. That wasn’t
the case at the height of my “success.” I was miserable. Totally miserable.
And I sometimes wish I could “do over” that part of my life with a whole different
attitude. I wonder how things would be different today. But it doesn’t
do us any good to think of the past and wonder “what if…” Besides, I do
believe everything happens for a reason, and that was a lesson I really needed to
learn—to appreciate each moment, and not always be focused on the future.
These days I teach a novel writing course through Long Ridge Writers Group, and
I have a few students who are as obsessed with publishing a novel as I was in the
old days. I see them making the same mistakes I made. I see their all-consuming
drive to succeed, the lack of appreciation for the accomplishment of small goals,
the never-ending desire to reach the peak of success. I try to tell them not
to be so obsessed, to enjoy every little success, to appreciate every moment of
the journey. But somehow, I don’t think they listen. Maybe they have
to make their own mistakes, just as I did.
All I know is, I’m just grateful for author Marianne Williamson. This
is from a book she wrote titled A Return to Love, and it literally turned
my life around when I read it. “The highest prize we can receive for
creative work is the joy of being creative. Creative effort spent for any
other reason than the joy of being in that light-filled place, love, God, whatever
we want to call it, is lacking in integrity. It diminishes us. It reduces
inspiration to mere sales.”
And this is how I look at my writing today. And it’s why it no longer matters
so much to me whether or not I ever get published again by a traditional publisher.
I write now for the simple joy of being creative. And it’s taken so
much pressure off me.
Okay, on a lighter note, I’m really getting into the Karaoke. I recently discovered
My Karaoke on MySpace, and I’ve recorded a few songs. Check them out at my
MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/carolebellacera
Scroll down past the YouTube video, and you’ll see the songs.
Oh, and I have a video to share of my gorgeous grandson, Luke William. Check
it out if you love babies, (and who doesn’t?) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olYSl0xt8Bs&feature=channel_page
Congratulations to my January website contest winner, Lisa White
from London, Ontario. She won a copy of
UNDERSTUDY and a custom-made bracelet from Beautiful Evening Beads.
(See Photo.) Stop by my website, www.CaroleBellacera.com
and enter February contest. I’ve also put up new jewelry up at my Etsy shop.
Stop by and check it out: www.beautifuleveningbead.etsy.com
(And don’t let the “no feedback” for my one piddly sale stop you from buying…my
friend bought a necklace, and believe it or not, she can’t figure out how to leave
feedback.) And if you do see something you like and buy it, please, please,
leave me some good feedback. Thanks!