Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Local Author as Exemplar

Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans.  And local writer, Anne Allen, is living proof of that.  As outlined in yesterday's Tribune column ("By the Bay by Judy Salamacha"), Anne 's writing career got started, then stalled and stalled as the writing world kept changing.  Small publishing houses and small, independent bookstores went the way of the dodo, mega-giant publishers galloped like lemmings to the next big thing -- Vampires!  Vampires AND Zombies -- thereby bypassing so many, many mid-level writers with wonderful non-zombie books left sitting in the dust.

To keep sane and keep her writing brain in good order, Anne started a blog:  "Anne R. Allen's Blog: Writing About Writing Mostly." ( )  The blog was a witty, how-to blog on writing and publishing perils, how to get an agent, what to do, not to do, and soon it expanded to include discussions of the amazing transformation occurring in the publishing world -- the rise of the e-book, the growing popularity of Publish On Demand (POD) books which is now showing such promise that even traditional brick 'n mortar publishing house authors are heading in that direction. Who needs a traditional publisher when you can POD your book, list it on Amazon, market it yourself and keep a nice piece of the profit yourself.  

Before long, Anne's blog attracted other writers doing guest-posts and soon the blog was rapidly being linked to other writing blogs and turning into a must-read for anyone interested in writing or even non-writing "outsiders" interested in getting the inside dope on what was happening in the rapidly changing world of publishing and books.

And before you knew it, Anne and Cambria author ("Pay it Forward," among many other wonderful books) Catherine Ryan Hyde had completed a new book: "How to be a Write in the E-Age . . . and keep Your E-Sanity," and, in part due to the popularity of the blog, Anne's back list of previously published books were picked up by new small presses and, true to the new e-age, were back in e-print as well as paperback.

From published author to unpublished author to blogger and back to published author.  All it took, besides talent and patience and a whole lot of hard work, was a willingness to take a different path.  And have faith that if you ignored your destination and instead focused on turning that new path into the best journey possible, you would eventually end up exactly where you wanted to be in the first place.


Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks so much for this great piece, Ann. Trying to make it as a writer these days is like trying to build a house in the middle of an earthquake. Crazy times.

Oh, and BTW, Catherine's iconic book is called "Pay it Forward." She's also written 18 other novels that have won prestigious awards both in the US and the UK. She's a Central Coast star. She's done so much for the local libraries and the community. I'm really honored to be working with her.

Churadogs said...

Oy! Talk about a Freudian slip. I had just received a copy of Joan Didion's "Play It As It Lays," so that was likely rattling around in my brain and so got mixed with Catherine's "Pay It Forward." Guess I could have typed, "Pay It Forward As It Lays." My apologies to Catherine.

Bev. De Witt-Moylan said...

Anne's experience should encourage anyone who meets obstacles on the path. Rather than stifling the spirit, obstacles can awaken creativity and determination if the mind is open to new experiences. Being like water Anne found a way around.

Churadogs said...

Bev: Amen. That's what makes her story so wonderful. Quentin Crisp has a wonderful mot on this type of thing: "It's no good running a pig farm badly for thirty years while saying, "Really I was meant to be a ballet dancer." by that time, pigs will be your style."

Sometimes obstacles are God's way of saying, Pssst, pay attention. Sometimes, the only way forward is either back or forward or sideways or by taking another path altogether. If the same old button gets you nowhere no matter how hard you keep hitting it, maybe it's the wrong button. Try something new.
In Anne's case, she chugged off into something both new and related and by doing so, created something new/related/different. Good work!

Anne R. Allen said...

I love Bev's zen interpretation of my path--and your analogy from Quentin Crisp, Ann. The truth is, that in this world that now belongs to the 1%, very, very few writers will ever "make it" to become Stephanie Meyer/James Patterson successes.

It's become like the music business, where you have a handful of Britney Spears/Justin Beibers making billions, while the very best musicians are touring funky places like the Red Barn and barely making gas money.

We have to do it for the art--for the journey itself. Then if "success" of any sort follows, it's gravy.

Churadogs said...

Anne: That's always been the way of Art. From day one. For every Picasso, there's about a bazillion non-Picassos, so you'd better love what you do. And keep your day job. And if you're lucky, some gravy.

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