When your life imitates your art….
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When your life imitates your art…. by Wendy Wax
Making things up for a living is one thing. Watching them happen afterward is quite another.
Of course, it’s not unusual for a writer to use bits and pieces of themselves or their lives in the characters and stories they create. (Sometimes we use bits and pieces of people we know or of strangers who walk by in the grocery store, but that’s probably another post.)
The Accidental Bestseller is about four writer friends at very different levels of success who help each other survive the publishing industry. It was inspired by my own ‘adventures’ in publishing, and while I’ve joked that ‘the names have been changed to protect the innocent,’ I’ve also admitted that the book is as true a look at what it is to be a working writer today as I was able to write without having to label it non-fiction.
Still, I wasn’t prepared when elements of the story, which were based on nothing but my imagination, happened to me. Like when I gave Kendall Aims, the writer whose career and life is falling apart until her writer friends step in to save her, having a launch party at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta because it seemed like a great way to show Kendall’s career turning around and then had one there a year later for The Accidental Bestseller.
I figured it was just a strange coincidence. Until I got the call from RWA that The Accidental Bestseller had finaled in the RITA© Awards in the novel with strong romantic elements category. The very award The Accidental Bestseller’s fictional Zelda Award is patterned after; the award Kendall Aims is sitting in the audience fervently hoping to win.
So now here I am once again anticipating treading in my fictional character’s footsteps. I can’t help wondering if the way I imagined it for Kendall is the way it will feel for me. Will I sit through the awards ceremony with my heart pounding, praying for an outcome that’s already been decided and recorded? Will I be afraid to freshen my lipstick because it might jinx my chances or makes me look as if I actually believe I’m going up on that stage to accept the statue?
Will I feel the sweat beading on my forehead while my hands grow clammy? Will I worry that my dress isn’t flattering enough, that I’ll somehow embarrass myself, that…oh, wait, those are the things Kendall worried about!
I’d like to believe I’m going to be sitting there cool as you please, not at all worried about being up against stellar writers Kelly Gay, Gemma Halliday, Pamela Morsi, Barbara O’Neal, Deanna Raybourn, Jeane Westin, and Susan Wiggs. Or the fact that if I should happen to win my critique partner Karen White, who refers to herself as the ‘Susan Lucci of the RITA © Awards,’ may never forgive me.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens. But however the Rita Awards turn out I think I’m ready to stop imitating my characters’ lives. I mean, I foisted an awful lot of problems on Kendall that I wouldn’t want to deal with. But just in case she and I are somehow indelibly linked, I really wish I’d written her winning.
While I’m bracing for the awards ceremony at RWA in Orlando this July, I hope you’ll enter my contest to win a beach bag full of great summer reads. All you have to do is take a picture of yourself reading The Accidental Bestseller on a beach (Your life imitating my cover), go to my Web site at www.authorwendywax.com
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