A Letter to My Friends and Family

You say, “You are going to do great!! I just know!”

But the thing is- you don’t.  I adore you for your belief in me. In fact, I need you to believe in me because I often don’t believe in myself. All the same, I may not “do great” at all. A published book, even beautifully written and backed up with stellar reviews does not equal any sort of cash flow. I promise you I have not made a cent on LIFT. I have learned to consider this book as an investment, one that will pay dividends in loving the world around me and leaving behind a whisper of what I had while I was here. This is what I expect the novel and the nonfiction project I am working on now to do for me as well. I expect them to make me a better person than I would have been had I not written them.

You tell me, “You are on the verge of something big. I can feel it.”

You are right! I am. I’m going to be living an authentic life. That too does not equal cold hard cash. It is worth more than cash, I can assure you. Finding the space in the world where you are becoming something more than the 17 year-old you ever thought you could be is more than most millionaires ever get. In fact, they are often chasing money to find this very thing. In this way I am about to be very rich. I am still, however, going to struggle to pay the mortgage.

You tell me, “I am certain that you are going to be a bestseller. I believe in you.”

Maybe I will be a best-seller, an overnight success after publishing 13 books, more than a hundred nationally published articles and essays, after winning a handful of awards. I doubt it, but I love that you believe I will have this kind of luck. I think you are a bit off to believe so mightily that something akin to winning the lottery will happen to me when so many others who are equally deserving are playing the game too. You are so wonderful to say this. I hope though that what you really believe is that I will finish this next book, the one after, the one after that. That’s the hard part, you know, the writing, the finishing of the damn thing. All else that happens after that is completely out of my control and yours, unless you are good friends with Oprah. And if you are, WHY THE HELL HAVEN’T YOU TOLD ME THAT?!

So now you are thinking, “Okay, Little Miss Glass-Is-Pretty-Much-Empty-So-Bring-Me-Some-Tequila. So what do you say to someone insane enough to walk away from her day job to write for a living?”

You say, “I will buy everything you write.”

You say, “I will tell my friends to read your blog, your books and to follow you on Twitter.”

You say, “I can’t afford to buy all the things you write, but I will check your book out of the library and write a thoughtful review on Amazon. I will tell the librarian I loved it.”

And I will say, “I love you.” I already do. Your support means the world.

–But it don’t pay the bills.

PS – Have you bought the new LIFT audiobook?  The royalties on your purchase will buy me two tacos and a burrito at Taco Bell. Feed me?

20 thoughts on “A Letter to My Friends and Family

  1. I love this, especially what you say at the end. It’s so true–don’t tell me I’m going to be famous, just read my book and spread the word if you think it’s worthy…And if you really love me, give me a shoulder to cry on when some jerk on Goodreads gives it a bad review–ha ha. (BTW, I’m enjoying the LIFT audio book. Falconry sounds amazing!)

    • Oh gawd, Mari. For all that’s good and holy, STAY OFF OF GOODREADS. I’m going to have to write a post on that sometime. I really don’t understand why, but GoodReads is SUCH a hate-fest.

      xo R

      • Ha! That’s true, but it’s so rewarding when people really identify with the book…and the haters usually sound pretty nuts so I try not to take it personally (even though one reader actually said “ultimately, I really disliked the author!!”).

  2. I write and blog. I relate to this piece. People think they know what it means to be a writer because they read the bestseller lists. That’s like thinking you understand biology because you have a dog. Keep up the good fight!

  3. I am sorry that I cant buy you two tacos and a burrito at Taco Bell as I cant afford to buy your audio book at the moment. But I will tweet a link to this post and show this post to my daughter, who is also a writer.
    🙂 Kim

    • You can tell your daughter to let me know when I can buy her book and I will buy HER two tacos and a burrito. xo

  4. Thank you for saying this so clearly, and shamelessly. I’ve struggled so many times wanting to appreciate the thoughtless but well-intentioned encouragement that those statements are supposed to represent, all the while not quite being able to put my finger on what I really wished that friends and family had actually said. And I’ve never managed to have the courage to actually go and try to make a living off of my work! I’ve just ordered Lift, it will be the first of your books I read.

    • Kate,

      In all fairness, they don’t know. I am convinced that “writing the great American novel” is a pervasive and particularly irritating myth in American Manifest Destiny, er, I mean mythology. We are supposed to do well because we deserve to –and we do– but that is not how the world works in any other vocation so I’m not sure why this is supposed to be true of art. It’s a bit of a journey to realize that it isn’t your fault when you do “well” but “well” doesn’t equal solvent. So I think the best thing we can do is support each other, us artists.

      So THANK YOU for buying LIFT. I hope there is a way I can support you as well!! xo

  5. Thanks for sharing this letter, Rebecca, started my writing day off on a much happier, more solid footing:-D Peace!

  6. A great post, I love the three ‘I say’ sections at the end, with enough friends that say those things we can all go a long way! Best of luck with your writing.

  7. I’ll buy it! Hope it’ll bring me some good karma when I finally get something published myself. 🙂

  8. I found this at the exact moment I needed to, after an evening of being told that I need to sell out in order to make anything of myself.

    I’ve shared this post on my blog and on facebook because I really don’t think I could word my own sentiments better; my friends and family loving my book is wonderful, but I’d rather they posted their thoughts on Amazon than tell me how I’ll be rich and famous one day.

    Thanks for this. It was refreshing to read and even though I’m not quite at the stage where I can quit my day job, it reminded me that someday soon, I will be.

    • I don’t think anyone is ever really at the stage to quit their dayjob, Athena. 🙂

  9. I love the article. Came upon it as I was reading Neil Gaiman’s tweets from the week past that I missed while I was working my day job. If you don’t mind I intend to link to this post as I think it is a very smart and well done piece.

    Also, stay away from the new Doritos taco. Man they looked so good and yet, not so much.

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  11. I saw a link to your post thanks to one of Neil Gaiman’s tweets, but didn’t actually read the whole thing till today. Timing was fortuitous because I just got back from a walk where I was discussing with myself some of the very things you mention here. Your blog has inspired me to explore this very subject on my own website.

    Almost a year ago I decided to go part time at work to do freelance writing and to promote my newly published novel. The part time work has dwindled down to next to nothing yet I am not ready to give it up and look for full time employment. My conclusion is that even if I have to forfeit the mortgage and move back in with my mother I’m going to hang in there. 🙂

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  13. Godspeed, Deb! I believe whole=heartedly that it’s worth the risk. I hope your years is full of wonderful surprises and forward motion!

  14. This “Letter to Friends and Family” is incredibly moving, Rebecca. Reading it made my eyes tear up. Thank you for sharing it! (Now I’m going to go share it on Facebook.)

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