Friday, June 30, 2006

My So-Called Glamorous Life

A comment made at LiveJournal the other day made me think about the life of an author and the way others tend to perceive it. Non-authors often think authors live incredibly glamorous lives, while authors always seem to be talking about how non-glamorous their lives are. I'm sure this varies by author, kind of book, and where you are on the food chain, but you know, my life is sometimes pretty glamorous. It's just that the glamorous stuff is vastly outweighed by the exact opposite of glamour.

The part of my life where I'm actually working on a book is about as non-glamorous as you can get -- unless you think that the act of writing a novel is inherently glamorous. I don't work in my pajamas, although I know there are authors who do. I just have this weird mental block about wearing pajamas in the daytime. If I'm wearing pajamas in the daytime, I don't get any work done because part of my brain thinks I must be sick. Even when I really am sick, I'll still get dressed because that makes me feel better. However, my "clothes" aren't really all that different from pajamas. In colder weather I'll wear sweats or leggings with a sweatshirt or long-sleeved t-shirt. In warmer weather, I generally wear knit exercise shorts and a t-shirt. I have a vast wardrobe of t-shirts from 5K races, client events, trade show giveaways, etc. I probably could sleep in any of the clothes I wear as pajamas, but I have the reverse mental block there. I prefer to wear proper pajamas/nightshirt/nightgown instead of sleeping in a t-shirt. Yeah, I'm weird. If I have to go out for some reason, I might wear jeans and a somewhat nicer t-shirt or sweater that day.

As for shoes, I wear things I can slip out of easily. I don't like walking around barefoot, but when I sit down, I usually come right out of the shoes (I've been known to sit in the choir loft at church barefoot through the whole service, then have to scramble to find my shoes at the end of the service). I've thought about getting a pair of those high-heeled marabou-trimmed slippers that Doris Day seemed to wear in her movies, but they'd probably clash with the shorts and t-shirts and might give Johnny the FedEx guy a heart attack. I don't own a feather boa or a tiara.

I don't wear any makeup at all most of the time. If I have to go out to run errands, I might wear concealer as needed and some tinted lip balm. My hair stays in some variation on a ponytail, and quite often I'll sleep with it that way and then not change anything when I get up the next morning (you can't brush curly hair). When I'm really into a book, I go out as little as possible, just to get groceries every so often and to go to choir practice and church, for the most part. As a result, my social life is barely on life support. I may cook once a week and eat leftovers supplemented with frozen entrees. That's when I'm not forgetting to eat.

I suppose you could say that I do eat bon-bons when I write, but that's because I've started using a weird little motivational system. I count out M&Ms according to the number of pages I want to write and keep them in a little dish on my desk. Each page I finish, I eat an M&M. That gives me a tiny little incentive to keep going, as well as a visual reminder of how much more work I need to do.

However, the public parts of my job can be quite glamorous. I travel to New York fairly often, both to research my books and to meet with my publisher. When I'm there, I may get taken to lunch at fun places. I've had cocktails at the Algonquin Hotel with my agent. When I go to conferences, there are often cocktail parties hosted by publishers or by various writing groups. I have a good-sized wardrobe of cocktail dresses.

I've been interviewed on TV and by newspaper reporters, though so far, most of my newspaper interviews have been over the phone instead of the interview over coffee at a posh cafe that it seems like the famous authors get (on the bright side, I don't have to worry about what to wear). Booksignings can be draining and depressing, but they can also make me feel like a minor celebrity for a short time. I love dressing up and wearing nice clothes, so I go all-out for these public events.

My life might be even more glamorous if I lived in New York because then I'd be invited to all the book parties that other authors have (Authors can generally be counted on to show up and make the party look busy. They show up because it creates positive book event karma so other authors will come to their events and because it can be good publicity for themselves.). Or I might not, considering I don't seem to be on the list for any of the parties they have for authors here locally. I've never had an actual book party, though when my very first book came out, my office threw me a little party during the day and even got a cake (woo hoo!). I know that the real kind of book tour that doesn't involve my Saturn and relatives' guest rooms isn't actually as glamorous as it sounds because while you might be staying in nice hotels, you usually get in very late, then have to be up at the crack of dawn for a day of constant travel and events, so it's not like you get to enjoy the luxury.

I might be a bit jaded because some of my previous jobs were actually more glamorous than this and involved meeting more famous people. I worked in radio and television news and then in public relations. One of my PR jobs involved dealing with people who'd won Nobel Prizes and going to parties at the homes of local movers and shakers. Of course, I was there more as "help" instead of as a guest, but it still felt glamorous when I was right out of college to be at a party in a home with original Picassos on the walls, even if I was just there with a photographer to direct which people we needed to be sure to have pictures of.

So, that's my life. I'm either a slob who never leaves the house, or I get all dressed up to go out and be a minor celebrity when I face my public. I get to be mostly a slob for the next three weeks, and I'm enjoying it already.

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