The Fabulous Life of a Published Author

Many writers dream of seeing their published works on the shelf of a bookstore.  Think of the heady feeling of walking into a Barnes & Nobel and seeing your name and book among the thousands of bestsellers.  That’s never been my goal in life.  Selling books means you make money and making money means you move into a higher tax bracket.  Who needs that?

Ok, I’ve written four books, and I get a royalty check once a month from Amazon.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours planning, plotting, writing and formatting (my wife did that part) and I actually get something ($) back in return for all that agony of being cursed with such a creative mind.  I make so much in one month that I can now go to a restaurant and order a Caesar’s salad instead of a regular tossed green.  It’s a life of wild self-indulgence.  I now know what it’s like to be John Steinbeck.  I don’t mean this in a literal sense because he died on December 20, 1968.  I now know what Hemingway’s life was like…sometimes I can even understand why he was “cleaning” his shotgun on July 2, 1961.

But I’d like to say that since bookstores are going to totally disappear from our lives in about six years, I’ve gotten more satisfaction from finding my books in the Public Libraries of America.  It is in these great institutions that my volumes will remain on a shelf for all time.  Actually, that’s not true.  I found out that a book’s “borrow” slip where a little grey-haired lady or an English major stamps the due date, needs to have dates stamped on them.  If no one checks a book out (say, twice a year) then the product of your sweat and tears will be in the next Fund Raising Book Sale.

[So if you’re in the Coburn Free Library in Owego, NY and you don’t check out my four books, they will sell them for 10 cents.  Go ahead, walk past me on the shelf.  It’ll be on your conscience, not mine.]

Recently, I toured the Saranac Lake Public Library to check on how my books were doing.  I felt like a famous surgeon making rounds of his patients at the Mayo Clinic.  I was very surprised to find all my books were shelved properly and had a decent number of check-outs.  I was even more pleased at the company I keep on these shelves.  In Fiction, I’m right next to Jennifer Egan, a very famous author and editor of The Best American Short Stories of 2014.

For those of you who are not familiar with Jennifer, this is a recent publicity head shot of her:

JenniferEgan

[Jennifer Egan (no relation), but a guy can wish, can’t he?]

Here’s proof of my claim:

JenniferEganShelf

[There I am…just don’t ask who Lesley Egan is, I have no idea.]

I went over to the Non-fiction section.  Again, there I was, with two books.  This time, however they buried me between two biographies of two relatively unknown individuals.

See what I mean?:

EinsteinEdison

I went straight to a computer and Googled these two people.  I found these images:

einstein-tongue-out

[A guy named Einstein]

einsteinOnBike

[Same guy, but on a bicycle.]

Edison

[The Edison guy with a funny horn-thing. He reminds me of a teacher I had once in high school who also had a sore left hip.]

So, what is the moral of this story?  What is the point of showing you photos of my books, when you can go to your computer and order them all yourself?  Well, you don’t have to go to the library then, do you?  A lot of quiet old men sit and read the newspaper in libraries…for free!  And, chances are, there are no book stores with 85 miles of your home.

But, there is a distinct possibility that you may not like to read and that you don’t really like me very much.  Then there’s always the option of Books-on-Tape.  The only problem is…none of my writing is on tape.

Not to worry, though, if you send me lots of money, I’ll gladly read a copy of my book into a tape recorder…I’ll even mention you by name.  There’s something heady in that, let me tell you.

Maybe then I can afford the extra salsa at our local Tex-Mex restaurant.  Can you believe they make you pay for that?

My Approach/Avoidance Problem With Being the Center of Attention

Spot Light

Andy Warhol once made a famous statement about the fact that everyone will get their 15 minutes of fame…sooner or later.  But will we really?  You may think that every time I post a successful blog, I get my 15 minutes.  Well, partly true and partly not.  I’ve always thought it would be cool to be famous.  To have people point to you as you’re enjoying a private dinner in a restaurant and you hear them say: “I think that’s him” would be kind of nice.  It’s happened to me several times, but the other person will usually correct the pointer and say: “No, that’s not him…George Clooney is in Tunisia making a movie.”

So, I began to think about what one needs to have a bit of time…center stage…in the spotlight so clear.  It didn’t take me long to realize that all I really needed was a spotlight.  Then I could attach it to something, clear some chairs away, and have all the time I wanted in my own personal “limelight.”

I went to B & H Electronics store in Manhattan one day this past week.  I wanted to get a very important VHS converted to a quality DVD.  On my way out of the store, which is located only a block or two from Madison Square Garden, I spotted the spotlights.  I walked around and stared in amazement.  If I wanted to light an entire soundstage on a New York City set, this would be the place to go shopping.  I looked at all the tubing, stands, racks, lenses and filters…then I saw it!  Here, in front of me, was the spotlight of my dreams.  The only thing that stood between me and having that light in my home, was my credit card.  I looked at the price tag: $875.50 + tax.

I walked out of the store empty-handed.  Not because I didn’t think my time in the bright light was worth that price…I just couldn’t figure out how I was going to get it on the train back to Albany where we had parked the car.

And then I looked closer into my psyche.  Did I really want to be the center of attention?  You need to understand that I am a very shy and insecure person.  Oh, I know what you’re thinking: “He’s so clever and open about everything…he’s a real “front-man.”  Well, that just isn’t the case.

I’m a shy kind of guy.

~~~

This evening (it’s November 22), I was attending a benefit dinner at the China House at Hanover Square in lower Manhattan.  I happened to be seated next to a lovely young woman, named Melissa.  I actually met her a number of times in the past years.  She works in the same office at Mt. Sinai Hospital where my wife was an administrator.  The first time I met Melissa, I thought the hospital had violated the child-labor laws…she looked about 16 years old.  I would joke with her about whether her teacher knew she was missing classes.  That was a few years ago.  Now, she looks about 17.  In face, she’s a woman in her twenties with two children.

But she always makes it known that she reads and likes my posts.

Now, here, I thought, is someone who deserves her 15 minutes of fame.  Yes, I would present her with an award.  A small medal or statue for being my most ardent fan in New York City.

[I ask you, do you ever seek out your favorite blogger and take the time to thank him or her for how important they are to you?  I mean, every few days, I bare my very soul to you all…I open my heart and share my thoughts and obsessions, ideas and stories.  It takes me days to recover from the mental exhaustion of giving you my ALL.]

But, alas, I leaving NYC to return home in the morning.  I will not get the chance to go back to B & H to buy the spotlight.  I won’t have the opportunity to present Melissa with her award.  Everything will go on as usual.

I guess the real issue is what did Andy Warhol mean by fame?  How many people have to like you to make you famous?  (I’ve thought about this for many years and I came up with the number of 7,686 people.)

In the end, someone pays attention to another person and makes them feel loved and appreciated…then fame really isn’t an issue.

Make someone happy and tell them that they are a superstar to you.  Tell them that they are more important than Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift to you.