Saturday, March 24, 2012

Truth By Way of a New Yorker Cartoon

Okay, so picture this:  a mid-life, housewifely woman leans a hand against the door jamb, the other hand on her hip.  She’s looking at a man, balding, her husband, sitting at his computer, fingers perched on the keys in front of him.  He glances up at her, says, “I feel that I have at least one more unpublished novel in me.”

Damn!  Reverse the sexes, and there we are.  Even the dog curling at the feet of the writer, asleep as usual. 

I don’t really understand this need to keep on writing.

Of course, I didn’t understand my compulsive, neurotic hours of attempting to format, publish, and sell my e-books either. In the past months, I became obsessed with my search for the true path to successful marketing of books that exist only in the digital ether. That path, I began to see, led to my friends who bought my books in an effort to save my sanity.

Then, one day last week, I rose from my daily ritual of visiting blogs, writers’ sites and groups, some of which it seemed only wanted my money, Facebook, and web sites of successful authors who published the old-fashioned way, scattering writerly comments here and there, and I found that my right leg had gone dead. The dog scrambled under the bed I as dragged my body to the bathroom, other parts of me having gone dead also.

“I am not having any fun!” I yelled at my husband who came to the door of my writing space a few moments later. He knows better than to try to soothe me at such moments.

“And?” he answered, not flinching or even raising an eyebrow.

“And I quit!”

So, today I’m beginning my fifth book.  A painful, anxious-making obsession is being replaced by kinder, gentler one, I suspect, and I will continue to sit for hours at my keyboard, the dog for safety’s sake moving away from me when I finally stand up.

I have at least one more unpublished novel in me.

Jo Barney Writes

Thursday, March 1, 2012


So, now I have two digital novels being published on three sites, a beautiful website, and membership in three authors’ groups, all of which email me at least once a day.  I’ve sold fifty or sixty books. I’m on my way, to whatever that way will lead me.  I still don’t understand the Share button on Facebook and I have a bit of trouble buying The Solarium for my new Nook app (somehow my sister-in-law in upstate New York has slid into my account), but  all in all, I’m feeling pretty good. Very good, in fact. 

Then the friend to whom I’ve sent the paper copy of The Solarium sends it back, wrapped in plain brown paper.  Not that it needed to be sent that way, like a dirty book, but that’s the way Sally, a sensible non-digital person, sends everything.  She attaches a note:  “A great read, Jo.  I don’t remember the rhododendrons at the sorority house, but Frank had a car so maybe we didn’t need to sneak behind them at the ten o’clock curfew.” Then she added,  “I started to mark the insignificant typo errors, but got caught up in the story, so I went back and made a list of a few slips I noticed.”

The list was forty items long.  Since this is a manuscript I had massaged word for word, at least ten times, I suspected she was getting a little loopy.  I had downloaded a perfect piece of work. The number one rule of self-publishing is “Make sure you’re sending perfection. Review your offering before you punch the Okay key.”

I thought I had. But there they were.  Forty missing to’s, for’s, from’s, in’s, a’s and the’s , a couple of pronoun confusions, and the worst of all, the main character’s name had morphed from Madge to Margo at least once.

I spend today correcting the book, following Sally’s notes, then republishing it.  I’ve learned two things.  It is a wonderful gift to have a friend who tells you like it is, typos and all.  And it is both humbling and empowering to be able to undo one’s mistakes.

 If only that were possible in the rest of one’s life. 

Jo Barney Writes