When the Universe Calls, You’d Better Pick Up the Phone
There are definitely times in a writer’s life when life itself interferes with the writing process. My first novel “Red Wine for Breakfast” was published in 1999, the second “First Class Male” in 2001, (Lighthouse Press) then nothing for the next ten years when I decided to go with Createspace for “Undercover Reunion”.
Oh sure, I have tons of outlines, characters, plots and just as many excuses for not finishing the two 50,000 word novels that have been sitting in my lap top for more years than I want to think about. All those wonderful characters remain hidden in the dark, cold cyberspace screaming for me to free them into the real fictional world!
Make enough noise, and the Universe will eventually hear you and relay your message loud and clear. And when the Universe yells at you, you’d better listen.
So, here it is, 2014. New Years Eve to be exact and my husband and I were going to a party at a hotel miles from where we used to live. A couple got into the elevator with us, the woman commented on how great I looked (true), then the guy looks at me and says “Hi, Robin”. I had no idea who he was, since I’ve been going by the name Raven West for a few decades, it wasn’t until he said his name was Gordon that I knew exactly who he was. The faux movie producer who had optioned “Red Wine For Breakfast” many years ago. ( read Hollywood Horror Story which actually won Second Place in Literary Non-Fiction at the Ventura County Fair in 2001).
I don’t know what surprised me more; that someone I’d not seen for more than 20 years would suddenly appear in an obscure hotel in Ventura, or that he would have recognized me (25 pounds lighter and looking really HOT), or that he’d let his hair grow down to his shoulders with a beard to match and looked like an aging hippie who I would not have recognized in a million years.
The “blast from the past” encounter was brief, but strange nonetheless. I mentioned I had a new book out with a back story to the old 60’s television show, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., he said good luck with that and we parted ways. What I hadn’t realized at the time, that encounter was just the first call the Universe was sending. There were many more to follow, louder and more persistent than I could have dreamed.
A few days later, I decided to check out a few of my social media sites and happened to read a message on my Linkedin account from Jacqueline Van de Poll, who was very excited to hear about my book “Undercover Reunion” and had purchased a few as gifts for their upcoming Arundel Affair 2014 – Celebrating 50 Years of U.N.C.L.E. convention… in ENGLAND and asked me to send a few signed stickers she could be in the book! I immediately checked Amazon.com.uk and saw my rating had soared to 123,000, which was about a million higher than the book rating in the U.S.
I then did a search on all things U.N.C.L.E. and much to my elation, discovered that Warner Bros. had just finished filming the movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. starring Henry Cavill (Man of Steel), set for release this year
A second ring from the Universe? Perhaps, but I still didn’t answer.
That gave me the idea to also search for the literary agent, Terrie Wolf who I had once contracted with on First Class Male and was thrilled to see that her agency was still going strong, but wasn’t taking on any new submissions. I called her anyway. Although we hadn’t been in contact since 2009 (for reasons that had nothing to do with our professional relationship), we connected as if no time had passed. We were on the phone for over an hour, catching up on all things publishing, a few personal (we had both become grandparents since last we talked) and, although she couldn’t promise anything, asked me to send her the manuscript, some bio information, media appearances, stats on sales and social media sites and she’d take a look.
I began to compile the information by first doing a search for Author Raven West and was amazed at how many sites I was on. I’d totally forgotten about all the blog interviews, radio sites, author pages and book signings I’d been part of and, although not astronomical by any means, I did have an impressive amount of blog followers, tweeters, website visitors and Facebook “likes”.
That damn persistent ringing from the Universe again? Maybe it was time to answer.
Then, last night I experienced the very best thing that any author could and I knew that I could no longer ignore the call. My husband received an invitation to an associate’s 60th birthday party in Redondo Beach, about a 2 hour drive. I didn’t know the man very well, but it was a party and a good excuse as any to get out of the house on a Saturday night. Once we arrived, there was only other guest I knew and she was taking to some people when I stopped by to say hi. The last time I’d seen her, she had come to our Halloween party where she bought a copy of First Class Male.
She immediately started raving about my book to anyone who would listen, which led to everyone within earshot asking me about where they could buy the books which led me to the trunk of my car where I always keep copies of all my books which led me to sell a total of FIVE! The most books I’ve sold in under an hour at full price in years, including a recent book fair.
Of course I signed each one to the delight of the guests! Suddenly all those feelings and memories of how much I loved being an author came flooding back! Talking to fans about the characters and the stories and hearing how much they loved my work and how excited they were to have me sign their copies (take THAT ebooks) reminded me why I was a writer in the first place.
It really isn’t about the money. It really isn’t about Amazon ratings. It really isn’t about vampires, zombies or teenage angst books-to-movie strategies. It’s about the creative process and the joy of putting words on a page that no one else can. It’s about the absolute joy when someone reads your work and wants to talk about the imaginary characters YOU created as if they were real people and shares their enthusiasm with others who also want to know who these people are and their story.
The Universe called and I finally answered. The message was loud and clear; “You are a writer. It’s not what you do, it’s who you are and you will never be happy doing anything else.”
Getting so caught up in the nuts and bolts of the publishing business, marketing and promotion and sales and spending countless wasted hours tweeting and #whatever and @whatever else, I’d forgotten what the Universe was screaming to remind me. I am a writer. It’s not a job, it’s a joy. It’s not a means to an end; it really is who I am. I just spent the last 2 hours writing this blog and I’ve never been happier.
And if all of my 149 followers to this blog buy a copy of “Undercover Reunion”, I’d even be happier!
- Posted in: Commentary