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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

At Which Time Erin Makes a Cake of Herself


There comes a point in one’s career, when one is standing before a video camera wearing naught but a towel, pearls, a shower cap, and a pair of long white gloves, that one must ask oneself, “Self, are you prepared to make a cake of yourself in front of all and sundry in the name of entertainment?”
Now, if the answer is no, then please be assured, one will not be thought less of. In fact, one may very well be thought more of for having a care for one’s dignity.
But if the answer is yes, well, press record and get on with the business of cake-making!
This may come as a surprise, but I faced this exact scenario not one week ago (uncanny, I know!).  Myself and the four other 2011 Regency Golden Heart finalists had joined forces and decided to donate a partial manuscript critique for Brenda Novak’s Annual Auction for the Cure of Diabetes.  To get the word out, we made a silly little video.  As I stood there in my towel and pearls, I couldn’t help but wonder—was this the sort of thing that would come back to haunt me decades from now, when I was a fabulously rich and famous author?
The answer, of course, was yes—this was exactly the sort of thing that would somehow resurface at the worst possible time, like when I was receiving my Presidential National Achievement award, or accepting my Pulitzer, or upon my nomination to be the official chronicler of the first colony on Mars. (What? Like those aren’t on your bucket list!)
But even knowing this, I still pressed ‘record.’
Why? Because I’ve already bared my very soul as a writer, pouring my heart into every word I put on the page.  I’ve revealed myself in a thousand ways, through my novels, my blog posts, on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve written of my family, and falling in love, and of reaching for my dreams.  I’ve shared my personal insecurities, my overseas adventures, and even my grief the day my cat passed away.  
And on June 5th, my soul will be laid bare for the whole world to see when my debut novel, More than a Stranger, finally hits the shelves.  Without ever setting out to do so, I put all of me—the real me—out there for anyone to see with every word, every sentence, and every paragraph.  I hadn’t meant to do so, it just sort of . . . happened.   I already know that the bad reviews will cut to my core, and the good will surely bring joy, because so much of me is in the book.
 So really, pressing record and letting the world see me as a bit of a dunce is really no big deal—just add it to the list of things my ancestors will be able to use to piece together the portrait of me :)
(PS ancestors: just remember the video was for charity!)
So tell me: Do you feel that you know something of an author by what she writes? Do you feel that part of you is in whatever you write? And really, would you turn down the opportunity to chronicle the first colony on Mars??
If you’d like to see the video, click here.  Or to bid on the auction benefiting diabetes research, click here.

43 comments:

  1. What a great post, Erin! One of my favorite authors is Colette, and I feel that her writing is so autobiographical that any biography of her is a moot point. When a movie came out about her life a few years ago, it was like--"Meh. What's the point? She already said it--and said it best."

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    1. That's so interesting, Lily! You were right not to go - what if they got it wrong and skewed your view of her? Best to leave the 'biography' to her :)

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  2. Erin,

    How you manage to look adorable in a shower cap is beyond me! I think your ancestors will be proud of you. At least you make a fool of yourself for charity. I do it for no good reason all the time. ;D

    I definitely put myself into my writing, tapping into my emotions with the hope my books will be an experience for the reader and not just a story. I often end up pulling back a little during revisions per my publishers wishes for me to stay light, but the first writing feels like baring my soul.

    My husband said something last night that made me feel validated. He has been trying his hand at writing the last few days and he said, "Writing is really hard." Such simple words, but the tone conveyed how much he understood.

    I love writing. It's my passion, but it can be scary to put myself out there. Thank goodness for all the lovely people who take the time to let me know how much they enjoy my work. They make the grueling process worth it. :)

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    1. Ha! I love that your hubby said that - it is very validating, I'm sure!
      I agree that you are wonderful at infusing emotion into your books. Even if the editors scaled it back some, Samantha still comes through :)

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    2. Exactly. I always see Samantha in your work. And I think I can usually find the bits that are 100% you. :)

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    3. Erin & Catherine,

      Y'all are sweeties. Thanks for that. :)

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  3. Erin,

    Loved the video!

    I think we all put a bit of ourselves in our writing and I have read several books that I would love to meet the author because the book was so much fun or kept my on the edge of my seat. I figured they can't write such great stories and not be fun to be around.

    As for Mars, that one hadn't made it to my list yet.

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    1. So glad you liked the video, Jane! I agree about meeting authors - sometimes books are just so delightful, I can't help but be certain the authors is as well :)

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  4. I'll third the emotion - the video was great. No making cake.

    My non-romance novel (about the effects of poverty and domestic abuse) has the most of "me" in it. While nothing that happens in the novel happened to me, I had felt all the fears and emotions the main character experienced.

    About the Mars colony, I'd have to ask the same questions of it that I ask whenever my fellow gets a bright travel idea: will there be flush toilets? Hot water in the shower? Coffee readily available? Beds with mattresses?

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    1. I'm glad I managed to keep the cake-making to a minimum! And wow, it sounds like your book is very intense. That will certainly make for a great connection with your reader.

      Hmmm - good questions. I don't think I could do bad plumbing!

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  5. Erin ~ Well... I think it depends on the author. I think you can get a good idea about some authors through their works, but others are more enigmatic. I'm pretty sure people get a sense of who I am through *my* writing however.

    When I first met Catherine Gayle in person (after a very long time of being critique partners) the first thing she said was, "OMG! You're just like you are online."

    And more recently at the Spring Fling Conference a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a fan who laughed upon meeting me and said, "You're just like the characters you write."

    Apparently my smart-assedness comes through rather loudly via the printed word. ;)

    ** Your black and white pic made me totally think of Lucille Ball, by the way.

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    1. Lucille Ball?! LOL! I'll take that comparison :)
      I agree that the 'real' Ava comes through in your writing. Don't worry, its only about half smart-assdness - the rest is funny and sweet!

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    2. Ha! When she said that, it took everything in me not to grab her arm and say, "Inorite!!!!" Your characters definitely have a bit of you in them...some more than others. :)

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    3. LOL. I hope you're comparing Erin to Doris Day and not me. If you meant me - I need to work on my image. ;)

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    4. I actually don't know much about Doris Day, but based on Ava's response, I'm guessing she's a sweet, rose-colored-glasses type?? ;P

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    5. Yeah, Doris Day and Ava just doesn't quite fit. LOL

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  6. Based on that video, the only thing anyone might peg you for is road rage. They're going to peg me as a drunk!

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    1. LOL, Ashlyn - at least it's a genteel drink!!

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  7. First off, I love the B&W look. Totally makes me think of Lucy, which works, considering you're making a cake of yourself. Lucy was the master of that.

    I definitely think there is a piece of myself in everything I write, whether it is a character who shares some of my characteristics, or whether it is emotions I've had to deal with in my life being channeled and funneled through my characters as they go on their journeys.

    Because of that, especially now that I'm a writer and see how the process works for me, I definitely feel like I'm getting to know pieces of other writers as I read their work. A challenge I sometimes give myself is to figure out what pieces are those bits of their heart they're revealing for the world...so that I kind of know them.

    As to chronicling Mars...well, if it is colder than Texas, I'm in.

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    1. LOL - it always comes down to that TX heat ;) Well it could hardly be hotter, right?!

      Oddly enough, I loved trying to pinpoint who wrote what in Lydia Dare's books. Their writing was seamless, but there were hints and clues that would tip me off!

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  8. Love the video, Erin. And you look quite fetching in a shower cap and towel.

    There's a lot of me in my writing...but hopefully, not all. I mean, there has to be SOME secrets! Knowing you, I can hardly wait to read your books. They'll move to the top of my TBR stack, I'm sure.

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    1. Why thank you, LJ - how nice to know I can pull off the look! And there is a balance, isn't there, trying to give true emotion to our writing while still leaving a big of mystery? I think I always err in the 'giving too much away' direction...

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  9. Great pic! Great video - and yes, Lucille Ball!! Ha! And yes, my characters are always spouting what I think, but I would never 'do' a lot of what they do!! *blushing* LOL!!

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    1. LOL, Cynthia!! Of COURSE you'd never to what they do ;)

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  10. You are adorable Erin!!! Love the video. Elbow length gloves should be worn at all times!

    I suppose there are pieces and parts of me in my novels. Don't know how much exactly. ;)

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    1. There is something special about a day wearing gloves ;) And yeah there are parts of you in your novels- its like I can hear you reading it to me!

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  11. LOL Erin you are adorable! Even in a shower cap! LOL

    And yes, you do look like Lucille Ball!

    Yes, I do think I put a lot of myself into my writing even though emotions are something I struggle with sometimes. And just so Catherine doesn't blast me, I am, however, getting much better at showing emotion in my stories. But I have noticed a lot of similar themes throughout my books for instance all of my heroines seem to go on a journey of some kind and I think that represents a woman's journey to find herself. I am definitely still on that journey lol. It's almost scary how much of myself I can see in my writing.

    And if we're going to Mars I'm definitely in! When do we leave? =)

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    1. Hehe - I knew I could count on you for adventure!! And you have come so far as a writer - the emotion in your books is wonderful now! Don't shortchange yourself, girl!

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    2. Suzie,

      I'm sooo glad you didn't go there about your ability to write emotion, because you would have more than Catherine on your back. ;)

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  12. Agreed that you are adorable in the shower cap, Erin. This video was so much fun to make!

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    1. Agreed - when do we start on the next one? ;-)
      [Did you just say that in an English accent? Yes I did.]

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    2. As soon as I get a chance to buy, I mean as soon as my maid gets my gloves back to me.

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  13. Erin- that video was funny. However, I believe that any talented person that puts work out there for others to see, hear, or read leaves bits of there personality or there life in there. It is a lot easier to see the effect in music or art. However, you can also see it writers work too.
    Since I don't write I can't say really say if my work is visible for others see. Sometimes you can tell what I'm feeling when I make something.

    Really you won't see me venturing to mars. I kinda like it here. ;)

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    1. Great point about the music and art - I didn't even think about that! My brother composes music, and most of the time when I hear his music I *know* it's his.
      Thanks so much for stopping by, Melody, and I'm so glad you liked the video!

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  14. My friend Marty Cobb once said "It ain't love unless you're willing to be a fool for it!" So this just shows you really really love what you do:) So, well done! Also, no one has ever looked cuter in a shower cap anyway:) I've never been a fan of red, so mars is out for me -- but I'd love to so some chronicling about Saturn!

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    1. Kara,

      I love your friend's quote. How true! :)

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    2. I love it, Kara! A sentiment we should all live by :-)

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  15. Sorry I'm late, but Erin, you are rocking that look! :-)

    The video is adorable--kudos to all of you! May it raise much money to fight diabetes!

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    1. Thanks so much, Deb! I love laying it all out there for a good cause :)

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  16. Hello There,
    My name is Lynn and I'm a Professional Blogger. I have more than 3+ yrs of experience writing for the web and have covered plenty of interesting topics.
    I came across your blog and was wondering if you would be interested in allowing me to write relevant & useful topics on your blog at no cost.
    At this point of my writing career, I simply want to get more visibility for my writing and I will write for free as long as you are fine with me adding a small author bio section following the blog post about myself.
    Please let me know if you are interested and if you'd like for me to submit a sample blog post for your approval.
    Thanks a bunch,
    Lynn

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hello There,
    My name is Lynn and I'm a Professional Blogger. I have more than 3+ yrs of experience writing for the web and have covered plenty of interesting topics.
    I came across your blog and was wondering if you would be interested in allowing me to write relevant & useful topics on your blog at no cost.
    At this point of my writing career, I simply want to get more visibility for my writing and I will write for free as long as you are fine with me adding a small author bio section following the blog post about myself.
    Please let me know if you are interested and if you'd like for me to submit a sample blog post for your approval.
    Thanks a bunch,
    Lynn

    ReplyDelete