Last year my best friend and I came up with a theme/mantra that would be our guiding principle as to how we would live our lives in 2016. We called it The Year of the Adult. Essentially what this meant was that we would make good choices when it came to things like diet, exercise, PROCRASTINATION, etc. It worked out pretty well given the number of curve balls life threw me last year. In fact, The Year of the Adult probably saved my butt. There was a period back in the spring when I had the copy-edits for Pumpkin Picking with Murder due right before the delivery date for Snowed In with Murder. Obviously I knew these deadlines were coming up, but what I didn’t count on was my three year old being pretty sick for about four weeks and my father going into surgery for an emergency quintuple bypass.
On top of all that, my first mass market paperback, Skinny Dipping With Murder came out in 2016, and let me tell you, that is a wondrously vulnerable feeling. An editor once advised me many years ago that writing humor was extremely difficult because what’s “funny” is subjective, so I suspected going in that not every reader would be a fan. What I didn’t realize, however, was just how far the opinions of readers would get into my head. Some readers felt my characters jumped off the page. Others thought they fell flat. Some felt my quirky adventures went too far. Others felt I was unique. I’ve been called brilliant and moronic in the same day. Sometimes I really wanted to scream, “Do you know how hard it is to write something this ridiculous?” But, hey, some days my comedy goes too far for me…and other days I think I’m hilarious.
Side Note: Overall, I have had far more positive feedback than negative (although it takes about ten awesome reviews to ease the sting of one brutal one) and sales have been robust – enough so, that St. Martin’s offered me another three-book contract. I am grateful for every single opportunity that has come my way. It still amazes me that I’m doing this author thing, like, for reals.
Now back to 2017. I’ve blogged about author insecurity before, but my poor friend has had to hear about it, often, and to a torturous degree. As a result, she came up with my theme pretty quick. Her speech went a little something like this, “So you’re weird? So what? Would you rather be boring? You gotta do you. And you gotta do it whole-assed. No more half-assing it. Live balls out!” Crude, but to the point. It was then that I remembered once hearing Beyoncé talk about the persona she used to get herself up on stage – this fierce warrior woman that could bring a crowd to its knees. It occurred to me that I could do that too. That maybe I could let go of some of the anxiety that comes with wondering how other people are going to receive my art if I’m the one who first believes in its value. Perception is reality and all that. Hence we arrive at Be Archer. If you have never watched Archer, I highly recommend it IF you are not easily offended by…well, anything/everything. As for the character himself, he is a delusional, obtuse, offensive narcissist, who never questions his decisions and generally gets a lot of enjoyment out of life. For just a little while every day I want to write this way. You know, dance like nobody’s watching and all that.
Now this is going to be hard for me – anxiety and humor are deeply related (a topic for another post) – but the truth is I’d rather swing big and take chances than try to make every reader happy. Another truth is when I worry about how my humor is coming off it often becomes a cramped and twisted thing. And don’t worry, I don’t intend to go off the rails with all this. I am plenty comfortable with vigorously critiquing my own work. It’s just that I want to be equally good at enjoying it.
So, here we go.
BE ARCHER! YEAH! 2017! Woot! Woot!