Saturday, May 26, 2012

Write what you know.

We’ve all heard this, and while it’s true that it’s fun to explore things you don’t know, I am a firm believer that the closer you can get to your real voice, the better your writing will be. And if you stick to your own experiences, you’re more likely to use your own voice.

I heard a songwriter once say in an interview that the more personal he made his song, the more universally it was accepted. That stuck in my mind and so when I write, I try to make it as personal as possible.

I have a writer friend who lives in Norway and she says there’s a Norwegian word for this kind of writing that can’t really be translated. The closest English word she can find is “skinless.” It’s essentially when a writer exposes his or her inner self.

Anyway, I’m starting to babble now. My apologies. I just wanted to explain a little why I wrote It Seemed Funny at the Time the way I did. It’s fiction, but it’s also personal.

I took real experiences with real people that I had as a young woman and fictionalized the people and some of the experiences. I did this for a number of reasons, the main one being it made a better story. I could skip over the boring parts and condense the time frame and not agonize over the fact that I’m unable to remember every detail perfectly.

I based the main characters on people I knew, but sometimes I combined two or more people into one character, or gave an experience I had with one person to another character. And sometimes I just made stuff up. I wanted the book to be good and a fun read, not just a chronicling of my life. I doubt many would be interested in that no matter how “skinless” it was.

Some of the people in my life at that time—the late 80s—are still in my life, I’m happy to say. I’ve told them about the book and some have read it, or at least one draft of it or another. Several have been extremely helpful in discussing our past together, jogging my memory and adding their perspectives.

One friend said I could write whatever I wanted as long as I made him handsome (easy to do—he was and is very handsome). Another asked that I not make her a gold digger, which I found interesting since I’d never thought of her that way at all. I could see she was nervous though and I made sure there was nothing written that could make her seem gold-diggery.

I understand what it feels like to be written about. I had an ex once who wrote a little TV show about his life—you might have seen it. Sometimes, I’d recognize a scene or an element in a character as mine, just as I’m sure many of his friends and family did. But the story wasn’t about me. It was about him.

And my book is about what happened to me. My intent isn’t to make anyone uncomfortable or look like a gold digger or less handsome. I’m just telling my story in a way that I hope people will enjoy. I just happened to have had some very funny, sexy, amazing people in my life, and they’ve made my personal story interesting. So, I’m sharing it. I hope you’ll like it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This morning I decided to add a blog to my website. I know, I know—I’m always a little slow about such things. But it occurred to me that people checking the site might wonder what the heck is going on with the book, and I didn’t want to leave you hanging.

My path to publication started a little strangely since I got major media attention for my book before I’d even finished writing it. It was just a fluke that Jerry Oppenheimer, the writer of the Post article, happened to call to get a quote from me on Jerry’s new show. I mentioned that I was writing a book and before I knew it, I was featured in the article, and then got a call from Inside Edition.

I knew very little about the book business, but knew enough to know not to say no to such opportunities. I was grateful for both the article and the piece on Inside Edition, and continued writing as fast as I could.

Once the book was finished, however, I had no clue what to do next. I started asking my writer friends to explain to me how the business worked, and began my education on how to get published.

I learned quickly that I had chosen yet another profession in which the odds of success are overwhelmingly tiny. That never slowed me down the first time around though, so I kept going again, just like I had in my modeling career when I was a naïve young thing.

When I was teaching acting in Los Angeles, I used to tell my students, "People will tell you you'll fail for many reasons and chances are they're right, but if it's really what you want to do, then do it anyway."

So, I'm doing this. And I have learned a lot. In querying literary agents, I’ve gotten some interesting responses. Some of them were silence (not so interesting). A couple of them had very valuable advice (which I took). A few expressed interest in a non fiction book kissing and telling about you know who, but as many of you who know me know, I have no interest in writing that kind of book.

I stopped shopping the book for a while. My husband and I decided to move from Los Angeles to North Carolina, and that endeavor took much of my time. I was still working on commercials in L.A. and juggling that with getting the house ready to sell and still writing—something I can’t make myself not do now that I’ve discovered it.

Anyway, two escrows and a multi dog and cat-filled cross-country trip later, we landed in Tryon, North Carolina, a tiny quaint artists’ and writers’ haven that I loved at first sight.

I unpacked a little, kept writing, and ignored my first book. I've posted much of my fiction on websites under another name, thoroughly enjoying myself, but I knew I needed to get back to hocking what I’d started calling my “book book.”

I finally blew the dust off my list of literary agents and started sending out queries again, but honestly, it’s no fun. Rejection and being ignored have far less appeal than the absolute joy I find when I write, so naturally, I write more than I query.

Consequently, I’ve started a sequel to my book (my book book) even though I still have no agent. But I promise I’ll keep trying. And I’ll keep you posted on my progress as I go.