How daunting is it to be a writer?

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WE WENT TO A CONCERT tonight, Princeton Folk Music Society.

And one of the long-time members, a wonderful woman who was active in the folk music scene when I was still in diapers, brought over a copy of Pride’s Children: PURGATORY – and asked me to autograph it.

It was a curious sensation, being treated seriously by someone I love and respect, and have known a long time. She went to the trouble of ordering the print version, and of bringing it to the concert where she expected to see me.

A FAN, IN PERSON, IN AN UNEXPECTED PLACE

But then she started asking questions – about the biblical quotations, real questions about how I chose them and where they came from. I have epigraphs and chapter titles which are quotations from the Old and New Testament.

I explained that several came from the Book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible (she’s Jewish). Of course we have different versions, since I obtained permission to use the words of the King James Version, and her scriptures would not have a New Testament.

I chose the quotations I did because they resonated for me, knowing that my readers might be from very different backgrounds: the words can be taken at face value, but they always have a deeper meaning, and one that may take reading further into the chapter to understand.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt
Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

But she told me she had been going online to find out where the quotations came from – and I never thought about how some educated people like her might be interested in quotations enough to check them out.

The epigraphs as a whole tell part of the story: some are commentary on the worldview represented by the main character, some are a little bit of extra backstory (such as when I quote books Kary has written).

In addition, there are two ‘group characters’ represented by the media quotes I created in the spirit of what I’ve seen online – those that are supportive of a particular artist and those that tend to pick a few entertainers and find nothing but critical comments to make about them. The source attributions for these are as imaginary as the characters they refer to – but the models are ‘torn from the headlines’ of print media and TV news shows. My friend won’t find these online.

LEARNING TO BE ONE OF THE WRITERS (the grownups)

A warm fuzzy place in my heart made me happy. I am now a ‘published author’ and my book is available in the marketplace of books. It’s not that it hasn’t been true since last October 28, but that these little steps on the way to FEELING like a real author happen when you least expect them.

I check out the Amazon Reports – and see that SOMEONE is reading Pride’s Children, because the graph of KENP (pages read) is non-zero. Amazon reports how many pages people read on Kindle Unlimited, in fairly real time, updated when people get near their computer – and you can SEE the numbers grow, almost see the pages turning. And I don’t know who the someone is. It could be a complete stranger. It could be someone I reached via a comment, or an ad, or a personal recommendation. All weird. Good weird.

I’m too new at this to get jaded for a LONG time.

Do you find yourself taken aback when someone treats you seriously in connection with your writing?

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Write a book, Alicia, and life changes – mostly for the person you see in the mirror.

    • And I keep finding more ways it is fun. I did my first ‘traveling book’ today: I joined BookCrossing.com, took a print copy, wrote instructions on how to report whether you come across this copy, and set it free in a retirement community we visited this morning.

      You’re supposed to read it (or not), and then pass it on to someone else, and may go to BookCrossing’s website and report that it passed through your hands (each book is given a unique BCID#).

      ‘Traveling book’ is not a new idea – but this is my first, and I can’t wait to see where it goes (the person I handed it to said she was looking forward to reading it, but after that, it is completely out of my hands).

      I’ll have to release a few more into the wild.

      I’m still having fun.

      And no, I don’t intend to be a one-book author (I’ve come across some – it baffles me).

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