Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, September 24, 2010

Author: The Job that Never Ends

by Kerry Blair

There’s a funny thing about being an author: you can’t stop. Oh, you can stop writing, I’m proof of that. You can walk away from a keyboard—if not the stories in your head. You can list “homemaker” on your tax forms and when people ask what you—an empty nester—do you can reply with a smile, “Oh, I’m a professional leech.” (The reaction is usually delicious.) You can even ignore your blog for more than a year and your website longer. But you just can’t stop being an author.

I know. I’ve tried.

It’s not that being an author is embarrassing, exactly. It’s an honest, if arduous, profession. But there remains something about the title that often unnerves me. Like in church. The first week we attended our new ward I leaned over an empty seat in Sunday School to introduce myself to the woman sitting closest. Instead of murmuring the customary, “Nice to meet you” or “Welcome to the ward” she said, “Kerry Blair. Why do I know that name?”

What do you say to that? I shrugged, feeling like this generation’s Typhoid Kerry.

Later in Relief Society I silently memorized another ward’s members’ birthdays on the bulletin board while one sister behind me explained to the others in her row, “You know, she’s that author.”

She might as well have said “ostrich.” I almost turned around to deny it. For sure I wished I were a dentist.

But no, I am an author and will be forever, I guess, whether I publish again or not. Once those books are “out there” they are out there and there is no calling them back.

Not that I want to.

Even though I have not published for years, I get three or four e-mails a week reminding me that once upon a time I wrote—and Covenant passed out—fairytales. This week, along with complying with a request for the epilogue to Closing In, I carried on two correspondences that truly pierced my heart with their kindness.

First, an incredibly dear young woman with way too much time on her hands got 78 of her cyberfriends to sign a “petition” to bring back Samantha Shade. Since I will soon have a little time on my hands myself, I committed to revisiting the third mostly-finished novel and sending out copies in e-book form. Second, I received an e-mail from a representative of a much smaller group (as in three or four sisters and/or sisters-in-law) wanting to know if I had any plans to continue the “Heart” series. Requests like these never cease to amaze me—especially the latter.

More than a decade ago I published my first novel, The Heart Has Its Reasons. (Give me a break, guys; romance was king . . . er, queen? . . . in LDS publishing then. “Suspense” was mostly wondering when the nonmember character would be baptized.) Not only was that darn book full of adverbs and purple prose, the breakneck changes in POV were responsible for several reported cases of mental whiplash. (An Anonymous friend once noted that the only head I didn’t drop into was that of the duck. I don’t know how I missed him . . . ) Nevertheless, since series were also big at the turn of the century, two more books in the same vein followed. So here’s the thing. Anybody in the whole world who can read more than 900 not-very-well-written pages about a ballplayer and then ask me for more is immediately inducted into my venerated Hall of Name. (Names not-to-be-forgotten, that is.) More than responding with my thanks, I prayed that she might be blessed for her far-reaching thoughtfulness in writing.

A deep gratitude for appreciative readers is something I share with most of the authors I know. Whenever people take the time to reach out to us, we realize again how marvelous and even miraculous it is to be an author. As writers, we move on—to new chapters, new characters, new genres, maybe even new explorations of life--leaving our previous work behind. Yet the awe remains in knowing that at any moment someone new might open the cover of an old book to find everything just as we left it. They, of course, supply the magic. It is within the imagination of a reader that every story comes to life.

God bless them, every one.

And, since it is pretty much a given that our teeth are buried along with the rest of us, maybe that dentist thing isn’t so great. Maybe we all ought to stick with being "that author" as long as we possibly can.


At 9/24/2010 1:20 PM, Blogger Traci Hunter Abramson said...

Great post, Kerry! Thanks for making me smile. And dare I ask if your technology challenges are behind you?

At 9/24/2010 3:04 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I would sign the petition for a Shade-y comeback! Add my name (virtually) to the list!

I'd even offer to test-read it for you. =)

At 9/24/2010 4:13 PM, Blogger Debra Erfert said...

Me too! Me too!

At 9/24/2010 5:20 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Where do I find that petition so I can sign it too? And don't you turn it into a free e-book. I want a neon covered real book to add to my collection>

At 9/24/2010 5:29 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Me too! I want to sign the petition!

At 9/24/2010 11:23 PM, Blogger Janice said...

Put my name on the list too. I miss Samantha. Books that make me smile are hard to come by. All the newest books are full of blood and violence and sparkly vampires.

At 9/25/2010 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add my name to the list of people wanting another Samantha Shade book to add to my bookshelf!! I love your books, Kerry, and you, too.

Sarah A.

At 9/25/2010 12:52 AM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

Kerry, I'd read anything you wrote. Even if it was on a piece of toilet paper you picked up at a truckers rest stop. =]

At 9/25/2010 2:31 AM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Add me to the Samantha Shade petition. :-)

And much better to be "that author" than to be "that wannabe-writer" like me. ;-)

At 9/25/2010 7:47 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

Closing In is listed on Amazon as:

5 new from $60.93

Looks like a success to me ;)

At 9/26/2010 5:04 PM, Blogger Mindi said...

Kerry, I want to sign your petition, too, and at teh top! But I'm with Jennie - I want a book, not an e-book. Finish it and send it to Covenant! Pretty please with a cherry on top!

At 9/26/2010 11:22 PM, Blogger Stephanie Abney said...

Well, I want to know what happened after "Closing In" ~ LOVED that book, well LOVE ALL YOUR BOOKS. Love you and miss YOU!! Hope all is well and that you are enjoying your new home. Blessings!!

At 9/27/2010 12:25 PM, Blogger Pat said...

You've been holding out on us - git 'er done, dudette, and sign me up!

At 9/27/2010 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also like to sign the petition to bring Sam Shade back. I want to pay to have a matching set, after I talk my mom out of Mummy's the Word.

Kelsi Rose

At 9/30/2010 5:44 PM, Blogger Anna Buttimore said...

Kerry, I'm reading this as a veiled hint that you are writing again. Put my name on that petition - I have everything you ever wrote and would buy your shopping list, and I want another book from you. You have hundreds of fans like me desperate for your next book, so get to it!

At 10/03/2010 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would sign a petition for any of your books. But what about a sequel to This Just In? I want to know what happens when Jillanne meets the in-laws. Just so you know.

At 10/04/2010 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been visiting your website every two weeks since the last Samantha Shade novel was published to see if Book 3 was out. What a delightful and quirky series. How kind of you to share your talent. I've been praying for you (and admittedly sometimes for book 3). Please add me to the list of those wanting to purchase.


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