When I was a child, if you had asked my parents what one trait of mine drove them the most batty, I’d give you Vegas odds the answer would be: “She fibs”. (A close second would be my complete scatter-brain-ed-ness).
Yes, I fibbed. I lied.
When backed into a corner from which no mortal could escape, I would still try to lie my way out.
One of the best examples of this happened when I was fifteen. My parents had warned me not to ride my nice 10-speed bike to school but if I did to be sure to lock it up well because they couldn’t afford to buy me a new one if it was stolen. Of course, I rode the bike to school. Of course, being scatterbrained, I left it unlocked one day. (In my defense, it is hard to remember such details when your boyfriend is working as a techie for a band and invites you to the sound booth, in the school gym, to watch the magic unfold make out.)
My bike was stolen.
I was so worried about how mad my parents would be, that I made up a lie, insisting that I had left it at a friend’s place and would pick it up later. (Do not ask me where that one came from). I staunchly defended this lie, and found clever reasons why I could not bring the bike home, until the day we were supposed to drive to the airport to leave on summer vacation and my parents insisted the bike come home.
How long did I hang onto the lie? Well, I let my parents drive me all the way to the friend’s driveway before I broke down and confessed.
It was a wonderful drive to the airport, wherein my mother did not speak a single word to me after her (very logical) questions, “Why the hell did you lie? Why didn’t you tell us it had been stolen?” were answered only with dumbass teenager shrugs.
I still can’t answer those questions because, honestly, that was a pretty moronic thing of me to do. What I can say is that telling stories has always been my way to deal with just about everything, no matter how stupid or ineffective that tactic may be.
I just told you a story to explain the point of this blog post. See? I can’t help myself.
I’ll get to the point shortly. Just a few more stories, I promise.
I may have loved storytelling but growing up in a suburb of Vancouver, pre-internets, meant I did not get to rub elbows with professional writers. The closest I’d come was my highschool English teachers and a one-day creative writing seminar I attended in the eleventh grade. I knew nothing about the craft of writing, only that I loved to do it and that BOTH my mom and my English teachers said I was good at it, so that must be true!
I do not know how many thousands of hours of creative writing I have under my fingers, I only know that there will be thousands more before I die.
As I mentioned, I can’t help myself. Which brings me closer to the point of this post.
Josh and I had one of our head-butting moments not too long ago. (This usually happens in the later drafts of our manuscript, when we are both cranky-pantsing from too much editing). He pointed out something that got me foot-stomping pissed off. Simply, that it is as important to me to be thought of and recognized as a writer as it is to do the actual writing.
He was, of course, completely wrong about this. At least, that is what I intend for him to believe for eternity.
The truth? Oh man, you know how I am with this…
At some point, I don’t know where exactly, “being a writer” became as important to me as telling the stories. I’d like to blame Twitter or Facebook or video games or heavy metal music, I’d like to tell you the bike is at my friend’s house and I will pick it up tomorrow, (I swear!), but the truth is that it’s all on me.
I dove into the marketing of our novel confident that I could maintain a persona separate from my real self and remain unsullied by the outside world. But somewhere in the tweets and blog posts and articles I saw authors who were getting recognition from Credible Sources(!), exchanging witty repartee with other famous authors, selling thousands of copies of their books with just a wave of their gifted hand. They were known, they were respected, and I wanted to be one of them! NOW!
I felt like the dorky kid trying to smoke a cigarette to fit in with the cool crowd. You know, the one who just ends up coughing and looking like an even bigger dork?
What the hell had happened?
I found myself wanting to shout at the Twitter feed on my computer screen, “I AM A VERY INTERESTING AND COOL PERSON, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW IT YET! I GOT HIT BY CARS FOR A LIVING! I ALMOST DIED IN A WHITE SQUALL…WITH MY CAT! I’VE HAD CIGUATERA POISIONING! PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEE!!!”
Josh was right (but don’t tell him that), I’d become a person to whom “being a writer” meant as much as telling the stories I loved, maybe more. Had I crossed to the dark side, never to return?
This morning, Josh and I sat down to work together. It was the first time in far too long that we had a big chunk of time to work on new material, completely unfettered from tight plot structure or editorial demands. It was…bliss. 3400 words flew from our fingers in a few short hours and I was magically transported to that other world where nothing exists but story.
Basking in the glow, I was reminded of why I chose to write at all: I love to tell stories. I can’t help myself.
So, the truth is, I’m some woman no one’s ever heard of. I live… well, I live in a lot of places, but right now I live in a town most people cannot even pronounce, (Ucluelet = Yoo-cloo-let), that’s so small we don’t even get mail delivered to our door. No one has ever asked for my autograph, (unless you count that time the dude in Cranbrook mistook me for Bridget Fonda on my lunch break from Snow Queen, and, even then, he was asking for Bridget’s autograph, not mine). The big name authors, the mid-name authors, and perhaps even the no-name authors on Twitter will never follow me back or even respond to any of my comments on their tweets. (Although, Chuck Wendig did once e-laugh at a joke I made. *swoons*). 99.9% of the world neither knows nor cares that I am a writer.
At last, we have arrived at the point of this post, because I know there are some writers who read the little cranial gumballs I spit out here…
Story is enough. The rest is window dressing. I can’t tell anyone why they should write but I can say that if you’re one of those lucky folks who do it because you can magically disappear inside your own head, and your own words, then treasure that. No amount of Facebook likes can give you what creating your own world on a page or screen can give you. If you want to make a living at it, then you’ll have to do all the other shit that goes along with Selling Your Product, but don’t get lost in it. Don’t take it personally when the author you admire doesn’t reply to your tweet or your blog post comment, that’s their perogative and it probably has nothing at all to do with you. Unless you’re a creepy stalker. (Don’t be a creepy stalker). Stop obessing over numbers, stats, rankings and all that other bullshit. Who you are will never be as important as what you do.
Write your stories. Get better. Write more. Get lost in your head and love it. Have fun. Don’t forget what matters.
Oh, and while I was busy obsessing over being a writer, the 10th anniversary of the Coconut Chronicles snuck up on me. Yep, it’s been ten years of Kristene Perron’s Cranial Gumballs From Around the Globe! Thanks to all the Nutters who’ve stuck around to listen to my stories from the beginning, and welcome to all you new Nutters just joining the madness!
10 years ago, the Nuttiness began
I suspect I’ll be writing this blog for another ten years.
I just can’t help myself.
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!
p.s. Sorry about the bike, Dad.