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Monday, August 5, 2013

One Book Wonders and Life's Lessons

After I sold my first book, I worried about being a one-book wonder.  When I sold my second book, you would have thought the fretting would disappear, but no, I anguished over the third book.  Finally I figured out that the ‘validation’ from selling the next book would always be with me, my verson of the Sally Field syndrome, ‘you like me, you really like me’.   Every writer’s set of insecurities and demons  vary.

This year at the RWA Atlanta conference, I made the pilgrimage like many other writers to Margaret Mitchell’s house.  The irony of the situation did not escape me.  Here was a woman who wrote only one book, but what a book it was.  ‘Gone With The Wind’ was a Pulitzer Prize masterpiece whose impact to this day resonates. 

Still she must have had her own demons.  First, she almost didn’t submit her book to the publisher.  Then she requested all her papers be destroyed upon her death.  Since her husband complied with Margaret’s wishes, we don’t know what else she may have been working on at the time of her untimely death.  However, what a legacy she left with the one book she completed.

As I toured Apartment One and listened to the guide, I did smother a smile when I saw the setup where Margaret wrote over one thousand pages of manuscript.  So many discussions one hears at RWA conferences revolve around writers’ sometimes exacting requirements for a working environment [what music to play, not to play, etc.]  Another form of a writing roadblock, yet here Margaret had set up shop with a manual typewriter on a small table facing the street. 

While I attended a lot of great workshops and saw many wondrous sights on my road trip, the one thing that has motivated me the most was seeing Margaret’s house.  She had a passion to be something and to reach for it.  What she became was a writer and what a writer she was, demons and all,…even if it was only one book.   What is your passion, insecurity and/or writing demon?

Carol Stephenson

Her Dark Protector, 2013 EPIC and IDA finalist            


Anne Marie Becker said...

Wow, Carol - LOVED the pictures and your experience. Thanks for sharing. I've worried about that one-book wonder thing, too, and feel a bit better now that a few are out...but they're all in one series. Now I worry nobody will like the premise for a new series. LOL I appreciate you putting it all in perspective (via Margaret Mitchell's experience). :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Oh, I think the one-book-wonder syndrome is every writer's basic insecurity, Carol, quickly followed by the you're-only-as-good-as-your-next-book syndrome. Really, it's a wonder we do this to ourselves!

Rita said...

I write because of my insecurities, fears and demons. LOL. Gone With the Wind was a one act deal. I mean how could Margaret follow that? IMO she would have had to do a Rowlings and used a pen name. Today ‘scholars’ would be dissecting all subsequent books telling us how she mucked them up.

Allison Chase said...

Margaret Mitchell might have written only one book, but it's a book that'll never be forgotten. That's pretty amazing (an understatement, lol). Part of me wishes I had that in me - the fire to write that one incredible book that will stay on the shelves forever. Sigh. For now I'm just happy to receive a contract because hey, someone likes me! :)

Toni Anderson said...

Love this, Carol!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

My current demon is fear that I've backslided and become a worse writer than I was 5 (or whatever) books ago. Even in the face of assurance that it's not true!

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