- by Emilie Richards
I have a new book about to land on bookshelves. In fact, despite a pub date of July 1st, Happiness Key is already being sold at online booksellers and in a number of stores. Beside the fact that this can impact an appearance on bestseller lists, it just speeds up a timetable already much too short. I foolishly thought I had plenty of time to: 1) blog from my characters’ viewpoint and introduce them to my readers 2) promote the contest(s) associated with the novel 3) play with my character quiz on Facebook and 4) make sure my newsletters got to my readers in time to send them stampeding to their local bookstore en masse.
And did I mention call my children, cook and clean, drag my stubborn beagle several miles a day, weed my struggling garden, pack for vacation, pay the bills, show up at church occasionally so that I, the minister’s wife, won’t be given a visitor’s name tag? No more, you understand.
Oh, and did I mention writing? That thing we’re supposed to do regularly, you know, to earn money so we can promote our books?
I visit Istock photo regularly for illustrations for my own website blog. When I found “Do not forget to live” the sentiment seemed like something I ought to think about–if I ever found the time. After all, maybe there was a good way to use the photo to promote myself, my book, my next book.
And now, of course, I’ve found one. But do you suppose that was the photographer’s point?
Writers are no different from every other professional. (Okay, we are different. But that’s another blog.) Still we do share with others a new and troubling work ethic. As if the Protestant work ethic wasn’t good enough for us, now we’re doing the Work Ethic Electric Slide, all lined up together, dancing our little feet off and ending right back where we started, tired but still gamely waiting for the next song–or novel.
Forgive me for reminiscing, but I actually remember when my job meant sitting at the computer and writing novels. Period. Al Gore and his buddies were still inventing the Internet. There were no blogs, no websites, and–this is the hard one–no Google. I raised four children, moved to new cities, took sabbaticals with my husband in Australia, and somehow managed to turn out half a gazillion books.
And honestly? I think while I was doing it, I did not forget to live.
Creativity, whatever form it comes in, requires time spent doing other things. And not things related to the work in progress. Silly things, like pulling weeds, staring at earthworms, watching bread rise in the oven. Creativity is helped enormously by the hugs of children, the trilling shrieks of blue jays, the trickle of sweat after a long, hot walk.
Promotion is not the culprit. I actually love doing it, as well as the people I meet along the way. No, allowing our jobs to become our lives? That’s the scoundrel.
“Do not forget to live” could well be a writer’s motto. Not, “do not forget to write,” or “do not forget to promote.” Live. Live. Live some more.
So now, well I’m done here. The photographer has worked his magic. There’s a big wide world waiting, and I’m going to see what it has to tell me. Better yet, whatever it is? I’m not even going to write about it.
Except that I just did, didn’t I?