No, I am not unemployed, I was touched by the novel fairy!

The other day, I finished walking the dogs at the arboretum and went to one of my favorite coffee places to grab some breakfast. I go in all the time between 10 and 11. I dress in jeans and a t-shirt. My hair is in a ponytail which I admit is undoubtedly loosened by the wind, but this is Seattle after all. Everyone wears causal dress.


They look cute and cuddly, but really they’re scheming ways to get a bit of my breakfast.

Rosie and Tycho are outside waiting in the car, mournfully staring though the window. They hope I’ll come out soon and that when I do I will give them a taste of whatever I bought.  (Not the espresso–no one wants to see them on espreso–but my breakfast) So I order my croissant and latte. As the barista is pressing my shot, she asks any plans for today. I say something about just walking my dogs at the arboretum and now I am on my way home to work. She says, “Job search?” My first thought is if I didn’t have a job, I wouldn’t have just spent money on breakfast out. “No, I am an author.” I went from impoverished to impressive in a blink of an eye. Did she think I said I was a mystical unicorn? “Wow, you mean you’ve been published?” she asked. “Yes.” I mentioned Other Systems. Then spoke about the other  some science fiction short stories published and self published some comics. Then we talk about her roommate who is an aspiring author. She wanted some advice for him. We write completely different genres. She didn’t really care what I wrote about only that I was an author. As an author, I am automatically: gifted, talented, lucky, articulate, MegaRICH, connected! Most importantly, I was a person who has been blessed by the novel fairy. I handed her a bookmark and told her if her roommate had questions he could always contact me though my book’s website. Wait…you havn’t heard of the novel fairy?
The novel fairy is kind of like the tooth fairy, but  more capacious. She leaves inspiration under the pillow. Sometimes if you were a really good boy or girl, the novel fairy actually leaves a manuscript with a favorable publishing contract attached. I tried to tell the barista my first novel wasn’t published and Other Systems was published by a small press. She did not want to hear it. She certainly didn’t want to hear that I worked fifty hour work weeks. Sadly, hardwork and struggle are not impressive. She would have been disappointed to know I live a comfortable middle class lifestyle is primarily due to my husband’s job. She would have been really disappointed to see my closet/office. She only saw that I was blessed by the novel fairy. I think some people write or want to be an author because they believe it is an easy way to wealth and fame. I wonder how quickly that idea shatters as soon as they realize it is actual work. A while back, Kristen Lamb talked about self discipline on her blog and honestly that’s what got me thinking about this. It is a pet peeve of mine when I hear successful authors say in interviews, “I never set out to be an author…” Ummm. I’m calling BS. “One day, I thought it might be fun…and before I knew it I pooped out a novel. Tee hee…” I’m calling Double BS on that one. Maybe when someone begins writing–it was just a lark, a way to express emotions, or [fill in the blank], however, one day that changed. One day, it became work and the author had to decide to keep going. We sacrifice hobbies, time with friends, a clean house, and sleep to writing a novel. More than that, writing the first draft is not the only piece. Then we rewrite. Then editing. Then another rewrite. More editing. Whether a book is self published, published by a small or traditional press, the author most definitely wanted to be an author at that point. Books don’t magically get published. Books don’t magically get promoted either. It’s a lot of work to bring a book to market. It is a beautiful thing to see a project come to fruition, however it is a lot of hard work. All I can assume is this is an unpopular message, because the myth of the novel fairy is perpetuated. What are some of your favorite or least favorite myths of being an author?

27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tunnely on June 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I am not an author, and I think the one thing that is keeping me away from trying is because it IS hard work. Even short stories are hard work – for me. I always end up giving in and being really thankful that I have a good paying job!


    • Writing is hard for me too. The best part of the whole gig is to see my vision come to fruition. It’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment. But the day to day work is hard.
      That’s why I hate the novel fairy mythos. For a long time, it made me feel I wasn’t a “real author” because I had to struggle. (I had written 2 novels, 4 graphic novels, was actually published and still wondering if I was a “real author.”) So if you ever want to give writing another go and need encouragement, let me know. I have figured out quite a few things that help me.
      The other possibility of course is that your other job is your true passion. I have a friend who always talks about writing a book, but for her writing sounds a lot more fun than it is. 🙂
      Thanks for commenting!


  2. My favorite is that being published automatically means I’m going to be mega rich. Even my writer friends look at me and go, “When you’re super rich, you’re going to buy me this…” Yeah, no. I hope to be. My novel hasn’t released yet, but I can’t determine its success based on anything at all. Success for a novel is so fickle. Sometimes you can spend all the money you want on marketing, and it will never take off. Sometimes you spend nothing, and the book takes off out of thin air.


    • When I am super rich, I am going to hire a private barista…all s/he will have to do all day is make 2 lattes with the perfect ratios of milk, espresso and vanilla. 🙂 oh wait… I know what you mean. There is no guarantee that any novel will connect with readers. I think it’s a mix of targeted promotion to readers, timing and luck. Of course publishers & authors only have control over the first two so good luck with your upcoming novel! I think the lack of real feedback in promotion especially online promotion is the hardest part. I ask all the time, did I make a sale because of X? There is no way to tell. PS when your book comes out, I do author interviews if you are interested. Shoot me an email if you want one.


  3. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's New (to me) Authors Blog and commented:
    Soooo my author friends, you got your talents from The Novel Fairy … INSTEAD of MONEY 🙂


  4. Liked this so much I reblogged it to tease my author friends with 🙂


  5. really liked this an am now following.


  6. lol. sounds like an eventful visit to the coffee shop, sorry about that one!


  7. Hit that nail square on the head. A very refreshing read, and exactly right. Once you start to seek to be published, you realise just how much bloody hard work goes into any writing.

    Great post.


  8. I write because I love to write and miss it when I don’t. I have never been paid for writing, unless you consider the note I found which was me writing to the tooth fairy at age 6, asking for her understanding because I had lost my tooth but was still apparently hoping for a payout. I see parallels, you cannot get the payout from the novel fairy without thebhardwoek, or in my case, the tooth.


  9. It’s really strange, isn’t it? Of course I have a day job (well, night job really) and with me self-publishing The Caseworker’s Memoirs, people either think a) I’m super rich and famous, just because i’m an ‘author’ or b) I’m just a failed ‘author’ who can’t get published and just resorts to self-publishing as a last resort.


    • Definitely strange.
      At least in the States, people just love the drama. The other really weird thing they say after they figure out I am not rich and famous is: “Oh well I don’t read anyway.” It’s sometimes so hard to keep a straight face. Thanks for commenting!


  10. Great post. I’m still on the months and months of edits and re-writes. Hard work and I’m nowhere near to even trying to be published yet. Definitely NOT an easy option this writing lark. 🙂


  11. I love your light hearted take on your experience in the coffee shop. Completing a novel ready for publishing is extremely hard work as you say. Then just when you think you can take a rest you have the slog of marketing your work.
    How many people have you heard say? “Oh, I’ve started writing a book.” The measure of their commitment is how many actually complete the process. Good luck to all tryers and well done to all who actually finish their book whether it is successful or not.


    • Can’t agree with you more.One thing that I have told other writers, is writing a book is hard, until you write it and are faced with editing. Editing it is hard until you are faced with selling/publishing, then that’s hard until you start promoting. Then that’s hard… you can see where I’m going 🙂 Thanks for commenting.


  12. I too am blessed by the “Novel Fairy”. I have many in my collection, still awaiting the subsequent yet equally anitcipated “publication fairy” 🙂 If you have any advise on that score, do please let me know 🙂


    • Where are you in the process? Are you still sending out queries? Because one of the other myths that drive me batty is that once one book is published you are on easy street. It takes persistence and patience to get published.


  13. […] talked about the novel fairy before in this blog post. “The novel fairy is kind of like the tooth fairy, but more capacious. She leaves inspiration […]


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