Friday, May 8, 2009

The Best Part of This Job Is...

At presentations I do for school kids, I’m often asked, “What’s the best part of being an author?”
I love that question. Really I do. But there are so many good parts, I have trouble picking just one. Here’s a partial list I’ve developed—and I’m counting on my Midnight Ink friends to add to it.

1. The dress code—I can do my work in jammies, without makeup, with makeup, in jeans, or even in the buff. (But I wouldn’t do that because my chair covering is itchy. Don't ask how I know.)

2. The hours—Okay, they are long, but I do have some control. I can start early and work late or work late and start early. I can work weekends. I can work in the middle of the night. I can work from the road. I can read which is working, sort of...

3. The office staff—Rafferty and Victoria, my dogs, are very accommodating. They don’t gossip. They don’t interrupt too often. I told them about my Agatha nomination first thing. I swore them to secrecy feeling quite confident they’d never spill the beans--unless someone bribed them with yummies.

4. The escape—I tell lies, and I believe ‘em. I make a nicer world than the one most folks live in. When reality presses down on me, I can go to “my happy place,” and take a mental vacation. I don’t need drugs or booze or expensive flights to exotic spots.

5. The fans—I meet the sweetest people who say the nicest things. A man at Malice told me, “I was reluctant to read about a scrapbooker. But…I figured I owed it to you to read all the books up for Best First Novel—and I have to tell you that I LOVED your book! The characters were so human! I can’t wait for the next one.” (Yeah, I’m bragging, but it was a cool moment, so indulge me.)

6. The fan mail—Also, totally awesome. One woman told me my book helped her forget about the problems with her mother's health. Another told me how much she loved the references to the St. Louis area. Yet another told me she totally identified with Kiki Lowenstein and that feeling of being an outsider. I ask you, how many people get to open good mail like that every day?

7. The travel—Just got back from Festival of Mystery, and I can honestly say Pittsburgh has fascinating neighborhoods. Last fall, I drove through eastern Tennessee and the view was so gorgeous I nearly drove off the side of a mountain. Flying over DC this year on my way to Malice Domestic, I had a terrific look at our national monuments.

8. The other authors—When I walk into a bookstore or read the NYT Book Review, I think to myself, “I’ve met him; and her, and him, and talked to her, and corresponded with him” etc. It’s a cheap thrill, but one I still get. This year at Festival of Mystery I sat next to Wendy Corsi Staub. Last fall I signed with Lora Leigh and Julia Quinn. Emilie Richards is one of my mentors. (I still pinch myself to realize that.) Shirley Damsgaard is my best bud. Talk about high clover. It doesn't get much better than rubbing elbows with these industry titans.

9. The librarians—Always wonderful, erudite, thoughtful, intelligent people. Who doesn’t love librarians? I'm going to give a presentation in July to the library in Vincennes, IN, where I grew up. I can't wait to tell them how their kindness and their book collection made a big difference in my life.

10. The bookstores—Every shelf promises ideas, excitement, and entertainment. So many choices, so little time!

I’ll stop now. But how about you? If you’re an author, what do you think is the best part of the job?


Alan Orloff said...

Those are ten excellent ones.

I've been told that seeing your name on the cover is pretty cool.

Lisa Bork said...

Self-employment, creative expression, and providing entertainment for others.

Jess Lourey said...

That's a fantastic list, JoAnna! It made me remember how grateful I am to be a writer. That IS the good stuff. :) My favorite on your list is definitely meeting other writers, though. It's nice to finally find your tribe in this world.

G.M. Malliet said...

A tribe of writers. Just imagine. One of us might know how to build a fire. The rest could describe the fire, in "glowing" detail. We'd manage to survive, somehow, and we'd have interesting lives doing so.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Really, I cut my list short. This is the BEST job in the world, and we're living large.

Deborah Sharp said...

I have to agree with about meeting readers and other authors being the absolute coolest parts of this ''job.'' I'm continually amazed at your positive spin on things, Joanna. (I'm a bit more likely to come up with a post on ''The WORST part of the job ...'') You're great to remind us this is a fun ride!