Thriller writer David Baldacci, speaking several years ago in Richmond, gave an anecdote about his young son describing Baldacci's work. "My dad signs books," he said. The author commented that signing books, in a kid's eye, seemed more important than writing them.
Actually, just about anything is more glamorous than writing. The "sexy" part of this business is all about the nonwriting peripherals: book launches, signings, interviews, seeing one's name in print. And then there is marketing -- selling oneself and/or the work -- which is either an interesting challenge or an onerous duty, depending upon the writer's attitude and natural bent.
My natural bent is to run, screaming, from networking and self-promotion, but I am learning their importance and working at changing my attitude. "Interesting challenge," I tell myself, even as my inner slug is crying, "Please don't make me tweet. Don't make me ask for a blurb."
One helpful thing has been association with other writers. Another has been a small dip into one of the sexy peripherals. So here are two promotions: one for a writers conference and one shameless self-promo.
The annual James River Writers Conference will be held this year Oct. 6-8 at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. I can easily promote this, because back in 2008 the conference is what propelled me to really do something about that novel I wrote. It also gave me my wonderful writers group and showed me that this lonely business needn't be so lonely.
Conferences also bring fledgling writers into contact with those who have succeeded. (The Baldacci comments in this blog were made at a JRW conference.) This year, headliners include Kathi Appelt, winner of the Newberry Honor Award for The Underneath; John Casey, winner of the National Book Award for Spartina; Robert Goolrick, the New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife; Tayari Jones, winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction for Leaving Atlanta; Kitty Kelley, biographer of many celebs; and Karl Marlantes, winner of the William E. Colby Award for Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War.
I recommend it, and registration is still open. For full info, go to www.jamesriverwriters.org or call (804) 433-3790 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (804) 433-3790 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
Now for the shameless thing. Recently, my flash fiction short story, "Slave Hands," made it into the Top Ten in a contest sponsored by WOW-Women on Writing. Because of that, WOW interviewed me for its blog, and the interview was posted this week. Find it and the story at http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com.
There are many websites for writers, and I know I don't take advantage of them as much as I should. I do, however, check in with this one regularly and credit it with fueling my interest in flash fiction -- stories of 750 words or less. Playing with flash has sharpened my skills and focus, plus it's just plain fun.
Well, OK, some parts of the writing biz ARE fun.