Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The First Month After Signing. Or: In Which a Clueless Person Gets Published and Discovers That in Fact, She Is Completely Screwed

By Kat Ross

I finished writing SOME FINE DAY on my birthday in a marathon session fueled by sheer determination (I will type "The End" today with bloody fingers, if necessary) and roughly two thousand pieces of nicotine gum. I share an office with my daughter, who was seven at the time, and on that day, I made not even a token attempt to be a good parent. Or any kind of parent at all, really. She played games on her laptop while I pounded out the last chapters on mine, for something like ten hours straight. We rarely spoke or made eye contact, and she tuned out my mumblings just as I tuned out the horribly catchy jingles of girlsgogames.com.

To be honest, after writing two books in our shared office, I could probably work at a Gwar concert.

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Anyway, I finished on my birthday and signed the contract with Strange Chemistry exactly one year later, to the day. At the time, this seemed cosmically profound, like the stars had aligned just for me. Like some kind of omen. I floated happily on cloud nine for a few days. Harps tinkled and cherubs administered mani-pedis.  Even my now eight-year-old failed to annoy me.

Then reality set in.

Most of you probably Tweeted your imminent arrival from the womb. Well, the year was 2013, and I had no Twitter account. In fact, I had no website. My Facebook page was updated biannually, if I drank wine and got an insatiable urge to message people from high school. I had never written a single blog post.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm not even that old, just some kind of odd evolutionary throwback, like chickens with teeth.

Anyway, I had a few weeks to pull myself together and create a remotely credible online presence.

Sinking…feeling.

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Why had none of this occurred to me previously? And why were everyone else's websites so pretty while mine had random images of Nick Nolte's mug shot amid incoherent ramblings about muskrats?

I'm not making that up either. If you ever actually saw my first Wordpress effort…[shudder] Let's just leave it at that.

Long story short, it was quite a learning curve. Many, many weekends were sucked into the void of social media, Weebly and HTML. Or to be more accurate, hold music for technical support. I had quit the gum by then and sorely regretted it.

Like Jim Carrey's Grinch, my daily schedule looked something like this:

Four o'clock, wallow in self-pity; 4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me - I can't cancel that again; 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing... I'm booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness. But what would I wear?

But then somehow, in some strange way, it all started coming together. A few people actually followed me on Twitter! I followed them back, and many became friends. Writer friends! My website stopped looking like a socially alienated four-year-old's and actually got sort of cool, with giant pictures of hypercanes and a spooky trailer. I blogged and liked it. I started writing my sequel and found that it was possible to balance all of these things.

I guess the point is that it's NEVER too late to try something new and different and hard and scary. It might even help you do the same with your writing, which could end well or badly, but you won't know until you try, will you?

My daughter and I still share an office. I still yell at her to turn it down, for Christ's sake, I'm trying to write a book over here every few minutes. And I still lose my mind when my stupid, stupid website does not do what I am telling it to do. Take last Friday: My daughter happened to be sitting right next to me, like six inches away, playing on her Kindle, because she knows how much I like her hot breath on my neck when I'm working, and my frustration with some drag-and-drop disaster had just reached its %$&*# apex when this cool, collected voice that sounded like Stewie from Family Guy said into my ear, "My God. That's quite a tantrum you're having."

And it was.

We ended up laughing until we peed ourselves.

I hope we share an office forever.


To find out more about Kat Ross and her debut dystopian adventure SOME FINE DAY, visit her at katrossbooks.com.

3 comments:

  1. Yay Kat! (By the way, did the gum work?)

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  2. Ha! It worked in the sense that I was no longer addicted to cigarettes and was just addicted to the gum...for like...years and years...Now I'm on the Trident 12-step program.

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  3. Bloody fingers - that is determination. There is always one more obstacle to overcome, isn't there?! Good for you for plowing forward.

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