Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tonight's the Night!

My very first booking signing is tonight at 7. Muddy's Bakeshop has offered to throw me a party, and I really hope you can make it. I will do my best to be conscious and not pass out from nerves and excitement.

I think I was about 8 when I made the decision I was going to be a writer. I think at that time I also had solid gold dancer and paleontologist on the list, but I always got extra attention in class when I turned our "Write a sentence using the vocabulary word" assignment into some ridiculous rambling paragraph. (I certainly got attention when trying to imitate my favorite dancers, but fortunately fate has been kind of enough to me that I did not have to choose professionally gyrating as a profession). I kinda cringe seeing myself shoot my hand up in the air - ooh oooh pick me pick ME! - as the other kids rolled their eyes, but my way with words was something that made me feel special, and my teachers certainly encouraged it.

In the years since I've gone stretches where I was no more qualified to call myself a writer than a brain surgeon or an accountant. I moved to LA expressly to "become a writer," and I quickly learned that even though I did the things that came as close to following a "career ladder" for an industry without one, writing actually required the day in and day out slog of long, boring, WORK. Just because I felt like the profession of writing had chosen me like I had pulled some sword out a stone didn't mean it was just gonna come naturally. And most of the time it didn't come at all. When it did it was from pulling out clumps of hair and agonizing and rewriting and starting to eye those 1000s of books in the bookstore with increasing dread and suspicion.

So after writing umpteen screenplays and tv scripts and shorts that got attention* and an agent but nada in the way of actual production, or more importantly - cash - I felt the dream starting to slip. I used my afternoons while working for a lovely, forgiving TV writer to focus on my wedding and write about the planning on my very first blog, Snidebride. I felt like a failure, but I did my best to cover that deepening ache by focusing more on my responsibilities as a bride (ha! if there is such a thing).

And then a funny thing happened.

The wedding got called off, and not only was my husband to-be leaving, I lost my job, my self-esteem and the very things I used to distract myself from why I was there in the first place.

I'd been to a psychic a few years earlier, and after the requisite love, job predictions, she fixed me with a stern stare and warned me. "You've been given a gift that is not yours to keep. It was given so that you would share it, and by keeping it inside, its going to cause you to become very sick."

Anyone could easily dismiss it as fortune cooking ramblings, but her words chilled me because I knew exactly what she meant. After arriving in LA and announcing to anyone who would listen that I would someday own that town, I had the fight in me slowly and systematically beaten out. I was so afraid of the thing I used to be in love with that I tried to cover it up and ignore it and yes - talk about it with my shrink in Beverly Hills, you know the one - but little in the way of truly going for it.

With no more wedding to plan and procrastinate with, it took a little while to recognize that I had been handed a gift, one that ultimately took shape in the form of the book that I will be signing tonight.

I am proud to say that I actually have a literary agent, but not for this book, so this sucker is all me. That means I get 100% of the glory and 100% of the blame if it all comes crashing down around me. It's been a ridiculous, humbling amount of work and rapidly dwindling $$$ being my own publisher and pr agent, but I've learned a lot. I've learned that I still want to be a Solid Gold dancer, but I really want to be a writer in whatever form or shape I can eek it. I'm proud to show off my efforts tonight, and I hope you can join me!

* I will never forget the day my boss' high powered agent called to talk to ME because my script had buzz. bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


stephanie said...

I wish I could be there. I love cupcakes, prizes and a good story! Have a great night!!!!

jfarmer said...

"M", there has never been a child of your Mom and Dad's that could not accomplish whatever they set their sights for. So while you have had a twisting and turning path to this big night, those of us who have watch you grow up never doubted that you would get there if you truly wanted it.


Norma and Jeff

Joe said...

You rock. Sorry we didn't make it tonight, but know that you're being supported in absentia.

Melissa said...

I am just all warm and fuzzy from the warm and fuzzies. Thank you everybody for the encouragement and support!