Advice from the
Now Writer Me…to the Then Writer Me
by Laura Munson
Okay. You know those words that you fling into the ocean and the
sinking sun every time you’re standing on an eastern facing beach?
Those sometimes spoken, sometimes thought words that come out like a
beggar’s prayer? I know you’re kind of embarrassed by them, but
let’s just fess up. As an exercise.
Please help me be
published to wide acclaim.
Well guess what? After 20 years and 14 books…it happens. And I’m
here to tell you…it’s not the story you think it is. Your writer
friend was right when he said “The only difference between being
published and not being published is being published.”
But don’t I feel magnetic and energized and fabulous? Isn’t it the
most fun of my entire life? Don’t I jump up and down? Doesn’t it
feel like Christmas?
I’m a bit afraid to tell you. But I feel that I must. It
fun. For one entire second, when your agent called and told you
there was an offer on your book. You were on your treadmill, and
you took your feet off the conveyor belt and you stood quietly and
said, “Hang on. I just need a moment.” And she waited. And you
cried. And that was it. You went back to your fast walk and your
agent went back to business. The fun moment wasn’t so fun. You
took it and you wept.
What about all the readings and
the fans, and the
media and the limos, and seeing all my old friends? What about
going to all those cities and speaking in all those beautiful rooms and meeting all
those amazingly inspiring people? Wasn’t that fun? Wasn’t I happy?
Ah…but here’s the secret, and it’s good news if you look at it
I’m not so sure.
Tough. Repeat after me:
There is no such
thing as success.
I’m here to tell you. It’s a lie. An illusion. An interpretation
of events that feels mostly like total shit, because the self behind
the ego knows the truth.
I feel like throwing
up. If this is true...how on earth did I
finally understand it?
Glad you asked.
One Saturday morning you were lying in bed, at home, before the
family woke up. You hadn’t been awake more than three minutes when
you realized you had a grimace on your face like you were being
pinched, and your shoulders were up by your ears, tight and braced.
You were worrying about a reading in Connecticut that was at a
private club where 150 women had pre-paid $75.00 which included a
signed copy of your book and lunch. You were worrying that
they’d be disappointed that they spent all that money just to see
you. You were worrying about the ten pounds you’d gained and
what you’d wear—what looked authorly and had
written all over it. You were sure that you’d be the worst
dressed woman there. And what if you found one of your books
in the ladies’ room afterwards on the back of a
toilet like someone had decided they didn’t want it after all, after
seeing you speak in that horrible outfit? And geez—don’t
published authors have enough money to hire a personal trainer?
What a letdown you were. Who did you think you were?
And then you started to smile. And to laugh. That event
already happened! Almost a year ago!!! People loved you.
They told you so. They bought extra books for friends and
family and their book groups. And yes, you did find a book on
the back of a toilet in the ladies’ room, but you gave it to the
woman at the front desk and she wept, she was so thankful.
She’d heard about your book and wanted desperately to read it but
couldn’t afford a $24.95 hardback. So there. You were
worrying about something that was not only ancient history, but was
also a smashing success. And you realized you were holding all
those speaking engagements in you still. Hoarding them like
you’d need them for later should the end of the world come, aka the
end of your career, and you needed ammo, fuel, cover, proof.
And so you decided to re-live each one of your readings.
Starting right at the beginning. All 50-some-odd of them.
You needed to go through them and remember what there was to
remember, without judgment, but with a seeking mind and an open
heart—yeah, I probably
shouldn’t wear a long-sleeved shirt and a
long skirt if it’s going to be 94 degrees with 100% humidity and the
reading is outside
under a tent!
Ya live and learn.
Maybe it’s okay to omit the swear word in your book the next time your
reading is in a CHURCH, but oh well. I’m pretty sure God’s
heard it before.
You needed to unpack that suitcase you’d been hauling around with
you all over creation, hot little roller wheels and all, and put it
to rest. Even if it took you all morning. And it nearly
And for the first time in a long time, you breathed a fresh free
unencumbered sigh of relief.
Wow. That sounds exhausting.
Maybe so. But you’re at the beginning of this adventure.
You have time to change your story. You don’t have to spend
years tormenting yourself, unpublished or published, telling
yourself that you need to prove yourself. Because you proved
what you thought there was to prove, and it didn’t solve anything.
It didn’t heal anything. It didn’t erase anything. It
didn’t change anything about how you feel and how you fear and how
you love. All that proving—yes, that is exhausting. And
to live your life the way you want to live it.
All that happened is this: you wrote something. Somebody
liked it enough to put cardboard on each side of it and let a lot of
people know about it. And you got paid for it. And you
are known for it. Otherwise, it’s just the same as ever:
getting back to work on what you know and trust best. The
is something of a publishing phenomenon. After writing fourteen
novels for which she could not find a publisher, she wrote an
article that crashed the New York Times’s website. Forty-eight hours
later she had a publishing contract for her memoir, This Is Not The
Story You Think It Is. Her paperback will be published in April and
she will be touring the country doing events. For her schedule
please visit Events: