So yeah, I really need a reminder of why I love being a writer... so that I don't give up in a fit of anxiety or frustration.
There are so many things about being an author that are exciting. The whole process of watching your book go from something you scrawled in notebooks and revised many drafts of on your computer into a book, an actual real book that ends up on bookstore shelves is extremely exciting. I still get a kick every time I see it or someone tells me about seeing it on the shelf somewhere.
Meeting the authors I admire and being actually considered an equal (no, I still really am not an equal... am I?) when inside I'm a screaming fangirl is pretty awesome. As is having those authors as a support system and becoming real friends with them.
Getting offered ARCS is pretty sweet too.
And it is definitely good to know that even if I don't sell another book (oh please please please let me sell another book, though) or ever make it really big, I did the thing that I'd wanted to do since I was five, the thing that as a jaded and screwed up sixteen year old, I never thought I'd be able to do. That is very satisfying.
But as for I love most, it's definitely interacting with readers. It's those heartfelt letters that sometimes start "You probably get a million of these, but hopefully you'll still read this one..." (I don't get a million and I always always read and do my best to respond in a timely manner) and then go on to tell me how my book impacted them. I've had readers tell me that it simply opened their eyes to another world and gave them more empathy for what fellow teens may be going through. I've had older readers tell me that oh man that brought back some memories and I nailed it. And then I get the ones where I actually *helped* someone. My words, my characters, they inspired someone to get out of a bad situation, they helped someone realize they were strong and could survive the really ugly things life threw at them.
I also love doing events. Getting ready for the events I always feel so nervous and worried that no one will show up or whomever does will hate me or I'll screw something up somehow. But then I get there and the people who come to see me always make me feel better.
A few weeks ago I did a reading in Madison, Wisconsin. I did it because I wanted an excuse to visit friends up there, but I also did it because last time I was there, two girls made me feel like such a superstar, I had to go back and see them again. This is me with Chelsie and Justinne, who I met via MySpace and Chelsie's book blogging and have been my cheerleaders since I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE came out... maybe even before. that is what is awesome about book bloggers, they make you feel so welcome even before your debut.
And yes, we did intentionally pose under the sex books. We found it kind of hilarious. That is what I love about talking to the people who come to my events. They are easy to laugh with like old friends.
Another person who became a real friend to me during my IWBYJR visit to Madison was Erik Shager who is a teacher in an alternative high school program called Work and Learn. I don't do as many school visits as other YA authors and I think it's partly because my books are on the edgier side. But the cool thing about Work and Learn being a different kind of program is that I don't have to censor myself. I can just go in and tell the students my road to publishing, including all the bumps on the way. And I dunno, maybe I'm making some kind of difference or at least giving them a taste of something interesting to read. I can't tell you how psyched I was when one of the girls I met this year messaged me on facebook to tell me she'd ordered BALLADS OF SUBURBIA and was looking forward to reading it. Here I am with some of the girls from the class. Julia, the girl on the far left, added the cool text. Also pictured from left to right are Ashley, Claira, and of course me:
One high school event I was invited to this year was a day long, multi-author extravaganza called LitWorks. The kids there literally treated me like a rock star. They came right up to me, telling me how much they loved my books. I really didn't even feel worthy! You can see how much fun we had in this slideshow that the organizers put together:
Then yesterday, I got the ultimate compliment. A reader told me via Twitter that she was thinking of getting a quote from Ballads, "Secrets lead to sickness," tattooed on her! As a tattoo fanatic, well you can imagine how much that meant to me.
So thank you readers! You are definitely the best part of my job!