Dear Miss Behaved,
While attending the annual Duke County Quilting, Tatting and Kamikaze Awards evening, one of the well decorated winners in the tatting division commented, “Honey, your mother tells us you mail out your little poems to contests and the like week after week and you never get published anywhere. I just want to tell you that we all admire you for keeping at it, you never know, it took May Beth over there, fifty years before she took third last year for that pillow of hers (honestly, it wasn’t really third prize quality, if you know what I mean, but we were feeling pretty badly for her by then.) Anyway, keep up the good work!”
At that moment, between the green bean casserole and the mock lasagna, I realized I had become the local Brave Little Un-Published Author. I would rather take a pity- inspired third from my tatting. Is there a better Miss Behaved way to be a writer?
There must be More to Being a Writer than Getting up Early Every Morning and Writing
You are correct, getting up and writing because a person loves to write is thankless at best. And sending material off to publishers is completely thankless because as we all know, no legacy publisher will touch an unpublished author unless that new author is already famous. And, as we also know, literary agents will only represent authors who are already successfully published.
Let us dispense with reality and focus on some simple Miss Behaved steps that will create more recognition for you, give you far more satisfaction at your chosen obsession and will turn you into a real writer without the hassles of marketing an actual book.
The Seven Highly Successful Habits of the Miss Behaved Author
1) Talk about it.
Miss Behaved writers know that to the average person just the idea of writing is magic. So for the first two or three encounters, dates or holiday dinners, the Miss Behaved writer is secure in the knowledge that she will be the center of attention as she waxes rhapsodically about projects that are in the works. And all in her head.
2) Responding to the Deadly Question, “Why aren’t you published yet?”
The initial self-evident explanation listed above, and the assertion that your best ideas are still all in your head, will help answer this question. You can also add, “there are only three large publishing houses left in the US and they wouldn’t recognize talent even if it came under the pseudonym of Joyce Carol Oats.” Cite examples of genius unrecognized which will place you with T.S. Eliot, Jack London, and Emily Dickinson. Comment that the public and thus publishing world is simply not ready for your advanced ideas and methods.
3) Deflecting the question, “Can I read what you’ve written?”
This question often originates from well-meaning friends, family members or your current college professor. Sigh heavily and say “I would give you my work, but it’s in such a fragile draft stage that I don’t want to ruin it with criticism”. The other obvious answer is “I have so many ideas and brilliant observations that there is never any time to get it all down”. Of course you would have written something luminous and insightful just yesterday, but the computer was down, the typewriter was broken and the sun was in your eyes.
4) Answering the question, “How’s the Job?”
Often Miss Behaved writers are prevented from writing their brilliant tomes because they are kept too busy working at something they don’t like. Miss Behaved writers have jobs that have no social value and are populated with shallow co-workers and impossible clients. For the Miss Behaved writer, real work is either too draining, too stressful or too mind numbingly boring. Any of those three means it prevents you from quality writing.
The Miss Behaved writer frequently changes jobs. A Miss Behaved writer
must drift from sales (creatively draining) to waiting tables (stressful) to a brief gig as yoga instructor at the health club (and it still sorting out the difference between meditation and mind numbing). If your audience has already heard all about your ideas for a great novel that will truly be a classic, and they’ve already heard about the short sightedness of the publishing industry, then the next course of action is to discuss at length how the pressure of finding the perfect job that leaves enough energy at the end of the day to write down the destine to be a classic novel, is impossible.
5) Why Creating Great Work in This Particular Geographic Location is Difficult.
A. High home prices.
B. Low home prices which then means no creative outlets or interesting bars
C. Mom keeps walking down to the basement and interrupting you to ask if you found a new job yet.
6) Attend writing Seminars
Miss Behaved authors entertain themselves by attending weeklong writing seminars held in dry arid climates. They also spend years acquiring advanced degrees that need explanation (as in, I’m earning an MFA but I don’t really want to teach). Favorite Miss Behaved writing seminars are those that are too expensive, those that promise publication at the end of the week, and those that guarantee an audience with an agent who is already excited about your work. Attend enough of these, and you feel like a published author.
What does a Miss Behaved writer say at these seminars and classes?
Talk about your autobiography because your life is so interesting. Talk about how you’re on the verge of something big, Disney was interested at one point. Discuss at length how you almost have completed the musical concept for the script treatment of your life story. Mention that you’re thinking of shopping your script to Spielberg because you met someone who met someone at the last seminar who delivered coffee to last place where three people swear they saw Spielberg order a double grand latte. Or was it a Vendi?
7) My Book is a Best Seller.
Miss Behaved authors speak of creating nothing less than a New York Times Best Selling Book, 27 weeks in the number one spot. There is no question in the Miss Behaved writer’s mind that they are writing a best seller. With this book, they will achieve literary stardom. They discuss at length what to wear for the TED Talk. Every sentence brings them closer to Instagram fame.
If you are tired of being labeled a failure, then it’s time to be more Miss Behaved and just talk a better game. You will influence people, you will appear successful and you will gain a modicum of notoriety in your own hometown.
Or, you could write a how-to book about tatting, sell eight copies to the Society and call yourself published and that will take care of it. That way at least once a year, at the Duke County Quilting, Tatting and Kamikaze Awards, you will be famous.
New Class! How telling your Story Today can Change your Tomorrow.