Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vanity Press

I'm going to be a real writer. I've got something to say. A story to tell. About my family. You see, I've got a family. What a bunch of characters! So damn colorful. I've got so many stories it's hard to pick just one. Abuse, illness, relationships, loss and redemption. My family is big on loss and redemption. Sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews. A couple of old people too, with dirty drawers and false teeth. It's a big family. All of them have stories. Stories that will break your heart, or make you laugh, or make you think. Most of them make you think, the way I tell them. Their stories keep me humble.

But I know it's not enough to have a colorful family. That's why I've also got opinions, opinions about everything: Obama, the banking system, Detroit, space exploration, the Bible, education, dietary supplements. I've learned how all these things come together, because I've devised a system and, unlike a lot of writers, I can back up my opinions with facts. It's taken me a while to connect the dots -- a lot of these facts I had to dig for -- but once I saw how everything fit, well, it was a revelation. You've got to give readers a revelation every few pages so they keep reading. It's called pacing. It's something you've got to learn how to do.

I studied how the world works and sweated the details. It wasn't easy, but I did it. And I studied my family, their quirks and the things that made them unique individuals, as well as their similarities, you know, the ways in which they're just like anybody's family. It's eerie how people can be so different and yet, in the end, the same. That's one of the
connections that I made. That's what makes my writing universal, anybody who's got a family can relate to it. The way people fail, then pick themselves up again and keep trying until they finally succeed. And it's motivational. My stories give readers hope -- after they read me, they feel they can do anything and be a success. Take drugs. Or sex addiction. Sure, these are real problems, and they can take a toll on a family. Here in America, though, it makes no difference, you can always bounce back. I bounced back myself. A few years ago, I couldn't even get out of bed. I was wasted all the time. In and out of clinics, filled with self-hatred, angry all the time. Didn't shower for days on end. It's an old story.

Then I took a writing workshop. And found the truth. I worked things out, keeping a journal, filling notebook after notebook. I found I could relate to others through writing, and make peace with my family. I began to understand that they had lived through history, you know, the Second World War, the Great Depression, the arms race, Vietnam, disco. They experienced all these things, but they had buried their memories. At first, they couldn't believe what I was doing -- they didn't want to acknowledge that I was making all these connections, you know, between their behavior and my guilt. I had a lot of guilt in those days. But I worked at it and worked at it, until the stories almost starting telling themselves. They saw themselves through my eyes -- this crazy family of mine -- and they noticed that I was getting better, that the writing was helping. I felt good and they felt good. I found I had something to say.

So they continued encouraging me to write. Believe me, I was grateful for their support. It was touching, it really moved me, to have my family affirm that what I was doing had value. That I was worth something in their eyes. Pretty amazing. It gave me goosebumps. And now I'm going to get my first book published with this online company. They're going to print and bind it and get it listed on Amazon. I'll have it in a couple of weeks. I picked the cover myself, it looks beautiful, almost like a Maxfield Parrish painting. I think my family will be really proud of me. I'm pretty sure they will.

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