I am a Fan of Wheatmark on FaceBook. Wheatmark is “a team of publishing and marketing professionals who teach authors about achieving publishing success.” (quoted directly from their FaceBook Page). I also follow Wheatmark on Twitter and peruse their website from time to time. They offer some great information.
An individual on Wheatmark’s FaceBook page posted a thought provoking comment after a posting from Wheatmark on a note titled Why Did You Write A Book? This individual more or less said you don’t become an author and that you can’t be stopped in your quest to write if you are. Wheatmark asked for clarification which was not given so I felt inclined to post (of course I did). I said perhaps the individual was saying that an author “is” and you don’t become one. You might recall my post on What is An Author from not so long ago.
Still, the commenter’s statement stuck in my head. It’s definitely one to ponder and Wheatmark reminds us to remember why we’re writing or wrote the book as much as how to market it and such. I thought it was a great reminder and one I needed to hear considering I've been making myself crazy with all the research on marketing.
I took a few days off….sort of. I pondered questions such as the one from the Wheatmark commenter and I still wrote because that’s what I do. I also played on the computer which is partially social marketing. And, drum roll please, I went to a movie! Yep! 15 years and only twice have I been inside a theater…..not for not wanting mind you. Life simply kept getting in the way. Well, I sucked it up, begged my husband to watch 3 of our 4 children, paid my $6.75 ticket price and bought the world’s largest coke for another $4.50 (I had birthday money in my pocket! – notice I said “had”). The movie was Dear John. I loved it. Of course I did….was it not a love story right up my alley with the twists and unexpecteds resolved into a happy ending? It was a perfect me movie and I thank my 12-year-old for dragging me along.
But what I loved most about it was the sense of hope it brought forth within me. Not the inspiration to be a better person because the female main character truly was good. I didn’t get the urge to join the army or collect coins or help people with autism. All great things….but for me, personally it was an inspirational revelation because of where the idea for the movie came from. It came from a novel! A novel by Nicholas Sparks….just one of many novels written by Nicholas Sparks and made into movies…..and basically, his novels are about everyday life and not so different from mine. Okay, they are different because his are actually typed in and turned into real hold-in-your-hand books instead of handwritten in notebooks (but that is changing!) and he is a multimillionaire because of them but overall, not so very different story-wise.
I came home intrigued and began to research Nicholas Sparks. He’s got a FaceBook Fan page that I’m pretty sure someone else mans. He has a website that’s very professionally done although it appears he wrote much of the content. I found out his first two novels went unpublished and he worked a string of odd jobs while writing The Notebook in his spare time. It was picked up from the slush pile of a new-to-the-business literary agent; a find that garnered him a million dollar advance and the book made the New York Times bestseller list in its first week of release.
I wanted to find something magical that told me why Nicholas Sparks and his books about everyday life were such a phenomenal success. Why is it they’re being made into successful movies at every turn? Why was he able to donate close to $10 million to help fund the start-up of a private Christian school? Why was he offered a million dollar advance for his first book? I didn’t find a magic formula except….to be a writer, you have to write. He has a section for writers on his website (NicholasSparks.com) where he pretty much says you can’t be a writer if you don’t write which might appear to be in contrast to the Wheatmark statement that authors “are” and don’t become. I’m thinking they’re actually saying the same thing but you decide that for yourself.
The main point is Nicholas Sparks never stopped. He didn’t give up when his first books weren’t published (I’m not actually sure he even tried with them but he kept writing….because he “had” to because writers write, perhaps?). He has a gift and he had a dream and he continued to write. I hate to admit it but I don’t think there’s a magic formula. I think there are a lot of Mr. Sparks out there who write fantastic books; myself included (okay, so I’d be a Mrs. and not a Sparks but you get the idea). We write because that’s what we do, whether we have an audience awaiting the latest release of our novel turned into a movie or not. We dream of life for our characters beyond the confines of our heads and, like Nicholas Sparks, we don’t give up on the dream that someday, just maybe, our books will be the chosen ones…..provided we continue to write.