Bring Back Reading with Ripa--Stalking Kelly Ripa

Okay, we're not really stalking her (please don't call the FBI), but this blog was born out of the frustration of trying to get our books NOTICED when there is a sea of books published every year. If you can't change it, at least you can laugh about it....

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Dear Kelly,

Do you remember the phrase "Rock on?" Is that phrase seriously dated? Probably. I heard my son's very hip girlfriend say "Peace out" recently, which I found intriguing but not relevant to my point. But "Rock on," that pretty much sums up my personal philosophy about a career in writing and publishing. It's a rough road, full of pot holes and sometimes we crash, but to be successful we must…

Rock on.

First we do the whole bleeding on the page thing. Being writers that live in imaginary worlds, we don't usually use 'real' blood. Actors are the same, you don't use real blood either, right Kelly? So you probably get this. Here's an example of my writing day: Drag my growing backside out of bed at 5:45a.m. Hit the gym by 7ish on a good day. Back home and ready to write around 9a.m. Open the file of the book I'm working on and damn it, that difficult scene, the one that is NOT working, didn't fix itself over night. Stomp off (think metaphorically people) to check my email. Okay, pouting done, back to my scene. Between arguing with uncooperative characters, the compulsion to check my email every twenty minutes, coffee and diet coke refills, food, phone calls and the kids' sudden desire for chats, it's suddenly 3:00 PM. I have an hour left to write and wham—the scene starts working. I write ten or fifteen pages in two hours, spending the last hour snarling at anyone who is dumb enough to think I really stop at 4p.m. The next day—start over again.

Rock on.

Next come the critiques. I ask a couple people for a read through. Then I agonize for days, sometime weeks waiting for their comments. "Agonize" is an interesting word that stands for; knotted stomach, waking up at 2 am in a cold sweat, too much coffee, literally trying to hold back screams of "Have you read it yet?" or "You hate it, don't you?" when I see, talk to, or email these wonderful people helping me. "Agonize" sums up the days of my brain picking at the entire plot like a swollen scab. It's painful. Why would anyone put themselves through this?

Rock on.

The critiques come in from smart, talented authors who are generous enough to help me. They will make twenty nice comments and point out two problems. My eyes zero in on the problems and my brain flashes the FAILURE sign in big green neon letters until I have a headache. I walk away, determined not to let it get me. I stagger around muttering, "I can fix this. I can! I have to. My career is over." Then I down some Tylenol, make coffee and tackle the problems, once again snarling at anyone who interrupts. Strangely enough, by the time I'm finished, I am GRATEFUL to my critique-friends.

Rock on.

Time to send it to my editor and wait for the phone call. It's like waiting for a call from the gate keeper to heaven. My entire career is in that single person's hands (not true, but it feels like it). This period can take days, weeks or months. Coping strategies are essential. Frankly, the world would be a seriously ugly place without chocolate :-) Then the call comes. I have had all the variations—love it don't change a thing; love it, needs one or two fixes; umm you can fix this or you can start over (it was just a proposal but it still felt like a truck had hit me, then a bus, then a train…). On the last one, I tossed it and wrote a new story idea for my editor. She bought it.

Rock on.

Now I'm tackling a huge idea, trying to wrestle it into a proposal while writing the first of two contracted books, I'm doing this to grow my career, and because these two characters have come to life in my heart and soul. I'm worried I've taken on two much, worried I'll let down the people who believe in me, and just as important—worried I'll let down my readers, but you know my philosophy…

Rock on.

And this is what I tell the writers working so hard trying to cross over from unpublished to published. It's not an easy road, friends. Everyone pays the price in some manner. In may LOOK easy on the outside, but I promise you, every successful person has hit the rough patches. But what makes them successful?

They rock on.

So, Kelly, what's your personal philosophy?

Back to my son's girlfriend and her "Peace out" comment. From the context of our conversation, I took that to mean she's simply not going to deal with mean, nasty people. Are we raising a smarter generation of women or what?

Rock on,



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