Monday, July 23, 2012

Liz's Lair: Need a Shot of Humility?—Spend 5 Minutes With a Kid

Need a Shot of Humility?—Spend 5 Minutes With a Kid

As we speak, I am at Canyon Lake in the Hill Country of Texas with my entire family having a blast. I decided to use a blog that I posted on Fresh Fiction last week. Hopefully, none of you saw if, but for those that may have, read it again!! There is limited wifi, so I probably won't be able to respond to any comments until I get back, but I will. The first blog I wrote for FF last October was about my three-year-old grandson and how he impressed upon me that names are important. Today, I'm going to write about learning humility from the now four-year-old boy wonder.

Humility is defined in the dictionary as a modest or low view of one's own importance. Authors as a rule are usually not accused of lacking humility. We've been beaten down so much that when we finally do get published, we are forever looking around corners, waiting for someone to tell us it was all a big mistake.

Last October, LIVER LET DIE debuted, and I was thrilled. After all the years of writing and rejections and getting my hopes dashed, I was finally going to hold my very own book in my hands. Although I had a huge launch party at a local bookstore with cake and sangria, I decided I wanted a more intimate party to celebrate with my family and close friends.

Unlike my heroine in the Clueless Cook mysteries, I am a pretty good cook, so I made all the food for the dinner myself. My house was packed with well-wishers who bombarded me with congratulations and praise for finally accomplishing my dream. I was loving all the attention and found myself getting a pretty big head. I was an author, after all, and I'd written a pretty good book. I deserved all the accolades, which was my reward for all the hard work.

And just when I began to see myself as the next Cleo Coyle with my book on the New York Times Bestsellers List, my bubble was traumatically ruptured.

That same four-year-old who had reminded me not to take names lightly wandered into my kitchen where I (the big time author) was holding court with a group of people talking about my wonderful book. His pants were around his knees, and he looked up at me with his big blue eyes and declared, "Nana, I pooped. Come wipe my butt."

Humility – – it's a beautiful thing.

I don't know why writers, who are normally self-confident in every other aspect of their lives, are so "needy" about their own writing. When I signed my first contract with Berkley three years ago, it was with a lot of doubt that I could actually do it. First of all, I had to write a book that the editor liked since she’d signed me to a three book deal on three chapters and a synopsis and not the completed book.

Oy! Talk about self-doubt. I even parted ways with a critique partner who sometimes made me doubt myself and my writing. I did that enough for both of us.

It took me nine months to write LIVER LET DIE and another year to get it out there. By this time BEEF STOLEN-OFF was already written and accepted by Berkley with very few edits required. I was halfway through writing MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT when Berkley offered me another contract. I’ve just recently sold my mainstream paranormal mystery series (Coming next June from Midnight Ink) and I’m on cloud nine. I’m even halfway convinced I might actually be good at this, but I have a feeling I’d better bask in my glory while I can because I’m sure that precocious four-year old will find a way to bring me back down to earth. The last time I tried to impress him with my storytelling abilities, he quickly informed me that I didn’t tell it as good as his preschool teacher did.

It doesn’t matter to him that I have 3 books out and 4 more coming soon. He just hopes I get better with The Three Pigs. And you know what? That's the way it should be.

Can you share any humbling moments?


Cassy Pickard said...

Liz: I hear you. I don't have grandchildren yet, but I do have dogs. They sometimes sound the same. "Here's my stuffed rabbit. Aren't you going to play?"

Anita Clenney said...

LOL! That so brings back memories. Kids do have a way of keeping you grounded. And as Cassy says, so do animals. I think all writers suffer from self doubt, whether they're published or not. It's a touch business and even if you achieve success, it's frightening to think we might lose it.

By the way, you're doing great! I'm so happy for you. And your titles totally rock!Have fun with the family at Canyon Lake.