by Laura Alden
Agatha Award nominee, Best First Novel
After almost 13 years of writing, I’m now a published writer. An author. Hard to believe, but true. Which means that, to some people, after 13 years of spending much of my free time writing and reading about writing, and studying other writers and kinda-but-not-really telling friends and family that I was working on manuscripts, I’m suddenly an authority on All Things Writing.
Hah. As if. Some days I think I know less than I did ten years ago.
People ask me about e-books and sales figures and what the market is for memoirs and what’s the best way to sell a non-fiction manuscript? They ask me about selling poetry and children’s books and how do I think a novel about a young boy who learns he was adopted by a family of vampires would sell?
Um, no clue. Honest. I really have no idea.
“But you’ve written a book,” they say, looking at me sideways, letting their words rise at the end of the sentence, adding just a dash of doubt.
Sorry, I tell them. Wish I could help you, but I really don’t know. I just don’t know that much about writing.
And I don’t. How can I? See, for me the hardest thing about writing is knowing if what I’ve scribbled down is any good. If I don’t even know that, how can I pretend to know anything about writing?
When I’m writing, I have no idea if any of it is worth keeping. Even when I’m rereading, I really don’t know if it’s crap or if it’s decent. The really weird thing is that sometimes, on rereads, any given scene will scan like a champ. (Yes! I can write! I’m not a complete imposter!) A week later I’ll read the same scene and want to delete the whole thing for being such an insipid and pointless piece
My only comfort is that this feeling of I-have-no-clue-what-I’m-doing seems to run rampant in authors, even very successful ones. (Yes! I am not alone!) Of course, this comfort is completely overshadowed by the hollow realization that very successful authors can feel that they have no clue what they’re doing.
Uh-oh. If they feel that way, what chance do I have of getting a clue?
Well, none, actually.
But you know what? I don’t care. I love to write. I love to create stories and people and places. If I can keep on doing that, I can live with muddling my way through this business of writing, putzing along, doing my best. And with any luck, every once in awhile, I’ll be able to make someone smile, way deep down inside. If I can do that…well, then everything turned out just fine.
Laura Alden grew up in Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the 80’s with a (mostly unused) Bachelor of Science degree in geology. Currently, Laura and her husband share their house with two very strange cats. When Laura isn’t writing her next book, she’s working at her day job, reading, singing in her church choir, or doing some variety of skiing. Laura’s debut novel, Murder at the PTA was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her second book, Foul Play at the PTA, will be released in July.