Okay, I admit it. Sometimes I'm a kvetch. For those of you who are not familiar with Yiddish, a kvetch is an inveterate complainer. My poor husband bears the brunt of most of my complaints, which range from the physical to the metaphysical.
“I never have any time to write,” I moan. “Lots of other authors I know put out a book per month. It takes me a month to finish a short story. I'll never be a success as a writer. I'm just not prolific enough.”
“I can't stand doing all this promotion,” I sigh. “It doesn't seem to matter how many excerpts I post, how many blog entries I write, how many contests I run, how many fans I have on my mailing list. My royalties just aren't what I'd like them to be. And then I'm so busy with promotion, I never have any time to write.”
“I don't know why I bother. I don't have the energy anymore. My head aches. My joints hurt. I'm a wobbling mass of cellulite. I look at myself in the mirror and see an old hag. My wrinkles are starting to rival the Grand Canyon. No wonder I have so much trouble writing erotic fiction. I feel about as sexy as a dead flounder.”
“A dead flounder?” my husband asks, finally stepping in to interrupt my downward spiral. “I imagine that there might be flounder fetishists who'd find that exceptionally arousing.” I laugh in spite of my determination to hold on to my sour mood. “Anyway, I think you're sexy. At that point, my husband is usually behind me, rubbing his crotch against my butt and groping my breasts. I really can't in good conscience continue to complain!
The fact of the matter is, despite my laments, I'm incredibly fortunate. Okay, so I normally have at most one day a week to write. I find that I need a block of devoted time. I've never been one of those authors who can fit writing into the cracks in her daily schedule, so I try to keep one full day clear of other commitments. When I finally do sit down, I can produce 3-5K per day – maybe not up to some professionals' standards, but not too bad either. And my first drafts are normally pretty clean, based on feedback from my editors. At this point, I'm also confident that I can find a publisher for almost anything I write.
Now there's an area where I really can be grateful. Many of my colleagues struggled for years to get their first acceptance. The history of my first novel is rather like a fairy tale in comparison. I sent it off to my target publisher, almost on a lark, and two weeks later was offered a contract. In fact, I didn't even submit the whole novel, just the first three chapters and a synopsis. After Raw Silk was accepted, then I had to actually finish it, but somehow that wasn't a problem. I can hardly complain about long hard years pounding the pavement, hundreds of queries or dozens of rejections.
Okay, it's true that promotion is not much fun. (I'd be interested in knowing whether my more successful colleagues actually enjoy the grind of shameless self-aggrandizement.) But I've got advantages in this domain, too. I have enough technical knowledge to maintain my own website, which saves me huge amounts of aggravation and expense. I've been in the business long enough (more than a decade) to know a number of other authors with whom I can partner or exchange promotional opportunities. I have a good excuse (grin!) to opt out of most chats – I live in Southeast Asia and my time zones never match up. (I do spend lots of time interacting with my readers via email.) And I've always been an organized person. As time goes by, I discover or invent new ways to promote more efficiently.
As for the physical stuff, well, we all have heard that growing old is not for sissies. At least I can reminisce about the sexy adventures I had when I was younger, more flexible and more energetic – not to mention using them as grist for the creative mill. I still have my black satin corset and the form-fitting burgundy velvet halter dress I wore for my first reading. I haven't donned them for a while, but I'll bet they still fit, albeit with an extra bulge here and there.
I've been blessed with a top-quality education, work that is creative and satisfying, opportunities to travel around the world. Despite my complaints about aging, I am and always have been mostly healthy. I love and am loved by my parents and siblings. (Being far from them is the only downside of living overseas). I feel valued and cherished by my remarkable husband of more than thirty eight years. Loving him keeps me sane and whole.
Every now and then I stand back and look at my life, amazed. I never expected that it would be so interesting, or so much fun. I was a little mouse of a girl when I was growing up, living in books and dreaming about romance and faraway places. I am astonished, humble and grateful to realize that my life has surpassed my wildest dreams.
And that is just so far.