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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)

TITLE: A Chapbook
By dub W


I have written nearly all of my life. Even when I was a toddler I scribbled words and told my mother it was a book. Indeed, my mother kept all of my written work; from my three word sentences in first grade to my published works. I gave her a chapbook shortly before she went to the Lord. It was on her nightstand. I had collected several of her favorite columns from my days with the newspaper and some of my loose poetry, and even a few short stories. I wrapped a piece of heavy paper around the collection, called it a book and gave it to her. One would think I had presented her the crown jewels.

I have since published several novels, have written a ton of corporate white papers, and printed a mountain of other written work. I guess I can be called professional, because I get paid for some of what I write. In a couple of weeks I get to sit in a drafty farmerís market with a stack of books and hawk my writing alongside organic tomatoes. So, that my friends, is truly the writerís life.

My dear Christian associate, and favorite novelist, Alton Gansky, once told me that the writer works as hard after the production as before. The creative end is no more than the sprinkles on the ice cream. The real efforts come in marketing. Marketing is that ill defined skill of selling. A self publisher spends weekends at local bookstores and farmerís markets smiling and taking checks. A traditionally published writer spends weekends at big bookstores and conventions smiling and taking checks. The big difference of course is the national exposure by the publishing company. I figure I know people all over the world; if I had the money I would publish my own books and send them to these friends to market for me Ö self printed marketing theory.

My publisher told me that I can make $4 for each book I sell. So, while sitting at the farmerís market (alongside the organic tomatoes) next week, it is possible that I might manage to sell 500 books, I stand to make $2000. Sounds great doesnít it? Send me $7.50 and be the first $4 in the pot.

Somehow though, $4 for each book, hardly seems adequate in that I figure it took me over 1200 hours to write the book. I need to sell over 2000 books just to make minimum wage.

Typically, I write about 4 hours per day, seven days per week. I only write Christian literature these days, but as I said before, my career was build around secular writing.

I carry a Websterís in my truck cause one never knows when an idea will strike and the right word is not at the fingertips. I also carry a notebook everywhere I go. Some of my best stories were created during boring and uninspired sermons. I have also found a lot of stories watching people in airports, markets, or fairs. A writer friend and I sat in a coffee house overlooking the harbor and wrote character sketches for four hours Ė just watching people. We wrote a novelette together while sitting there, well at least the concept; I told her she could use it. I hope she did.

I suppose when I die someone will stand in front of the church and say something about my writing. I would rather they skipped all that and just said I was a decent Christian and leave it at that. I can only hope that the Lord had room for a chapbook writing good olí boy.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 05/21/10
I loved the image of your Mom receiving the "book." This made me smile, "hawk my writing alongside organic tomatoes." I think there are very few in the fine arts category of writers, artists, and musicians who are well-paid for their time spent on their craft. (and being raised in Iowa.. I'll throw farmers in that lot) :) I enjoyed this!
Brenda Shipman 05/23/10
Thanks for this realistic straight-from-the-horse's-mouth perspective about writing, publishing and marketing. I like your relaxed, "just sittin' down to talk" style, plus I learned some things! So glad your mom encouraged you to write.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/26/10
You did a great job of "showing" the writer's life. Somehow I can see you in that truck just waiting for a good character to walk by so you can "sketch" him.
Susan Montaperto05/26/10
I was touched reading your Mom's reaction to your "chapbook." So this is what a "real" writer's life is like. It sounds like you've really enjoyed it. Even with the piles of organic tomatoes.
Lyn Churchyard05/26/10
You are blessed indeed to have had such an encouraging mother. Unless we're a best selling author with a big name publisher behind us, we'll never going to get rich as writers. But you, dear Dub, see the roses instead of the cow manure. Oh, you know the manure is there, but you know the roses smell good :-)


P/S I have to agree about Alton Gansky, he definitely knows a thing or three about writing a gripping novel.
AnneRene' Capp05/26/10
Love your nonchalant demeanor in sharing so much knowledge, giving this newbie some real insight. I feel privileged and blessed to have a down home glimpse of your writers walk and appreciate the humbleness in how your shared it.