One of the few jokes I can actually remember well enough to tell is one that comedian Flip Wilson (remember him?) told. It was the sixties and I was a little kid, but this joke stuck. It goes something like this:
Here’s an incident that took place recently when I was returning from Chicago by train. I got on the train and sat down. And I noticed that the woman across the aisle from me had her baby with her. Ugly baby. Ugly baby. From the other end of the coach comes this guy and he was very drunk and he was staring at the baby. And the woman heard him when he said under his breath, “Damn.” So she turned to him and said, ‘What the hell are you looking at?” And the guy said, “I’m looking at that ugly baby. That’s a horrible looking baby, lady. Where’d you get that baby from?” And the woman said, “I don’t have to take this!” And she snatched the emergency cord and the train came to a screeching halt, and the conductor came running in. He said, “what’s going on here?” And the woman said, “this man just insulted me. I don’t have to spend my money and ride this railroad to be insulted. I’d rather walk.” And the conductor said, “Calm down! Calm down! Madame there’s nothing that the our railroad will not do to avoid having situations such as this. Perhaps it would be better if we were to rearrange your seating; let you sit somewhere else in the coach. And as a small compensation from the railroad, if you will accompany me to the dining car, we’re going to give you a free meal, and maybe we’ll find a banana for your monkey.”
So…there’s my fear…that when my book is released in February, people will flat-out call my baby ugly or even mistake my baby for a monkey.
I write romance–fun, tasty novels with a happily-ever-after ending and no great moral lesson. I’m not Steinbeck or Hemingway or Wharton–I don’t have any deep messages for my readers. I’m simply a kid from the Midwest who grew up creating fantasies. When I write, I’m letting the characters in my head out, releasing all the conversations and the scenes that fill my mind every day. My books are entertainment, a few hour’s escape from a scary and sometimes demoralizing world.
When I sent my novel to my critique partner for the first time, I thought that was the scariest part of writing a book–letting someone who didn’t already love me see it. Then, when I got my agent and she told me where she was submitting, the fear of what editors would think suddenly seemed overwhelming. I was wrong on both counts. The scariest part is waiting to see if people actually buy it and if they buy it, whether they’ll like it.
Right now, my heart’s alternately in my throat and in my socks. Rule Number One is my baby and I’m putting it out there for all the world to read and comment on–yep, that’s pretty scary.