Got a coffee-buddy at work, a God-fearing, pool-shooting, sharp-tongued lady with whom I chat over lowest-bidder coffee every morning. She’s a fireball and I like her.
The thing is, she has this phrase – “Really?” (used with a dash of incredibility). When she describes someone doing something stupid, her shift from straw-man-protagonist to her own level-headed take is to toss in this word. It’s sorta the story clutch-press, the shift from dumb action to witty observation. And it’s fine – it works.
And it’s the word I want to use, fellow writers, when I describe what I feel when I discover that people I know and am close with haven’t bought my book, or haven’t bothered to read it if they had.
You know me. You talk with me. You laugh at my jokes. I’ve given you sympathy and support. Sometimes you are friends. Or even family.
And I’ve written several books.
And you haven’t read them.
Vanity aside, isn’t that selfish? After all, this is a labor of love. This is twenty years of dedication and craft. And not a windy phone-book; it’s only a modest 357 pages. And the story narrator is an easy-going guy, one who jokes and quips his way through interesting events and an exotic settings.
A number of coworkers bought them. Few, I suspect, have read it. My nieces (college age) haven’t bothered. My own brother? Not sure. In many cases, I don’t dare ask, but I don’t get a sense of… completion? Or even of attempt? Hmmmm…
If you haven’t published, fellow authors, get ready for this. You’ll have your book out, you’ll tell just about everyone, you’ll personally sell copies. And you’ll think you are fulfilling that human yearning, to have your words, your thoughts, your values and worth be considered by others. And I’m not just talking coffee-break stories but real stories, the things you (as a writer) have mulled over for years. The writer’s soul.
If you’re lucky, they might buy it. But as for reading it? Good luck.
On the other had, there is a plucky Oklahomian grandma at work. I was in her office pulling a printout and she turned and mentioned something about my book that tickled her fancy. I turned and looked at her – “You’ve read it?”. “Of course,” she told me. “Got a nook version and bought a paper copy too. Oh, you’ll have to sign it. Loved it.”
I walked out of there ten feet tall.