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MURDER MYSTERY BUZZ
Talk, gossip, emotional attachment. What’s the buzz? What have you heard? Juicy morsels. Excitement. Did you see what he did? News! A big splash. Opinions. A movie, book, or artwork. We want to know what the buzz is and revel in the knowledge. We want to be part of it and express our views with sway.
I’ve been thinking about the word buzz for the past few weeks, since the release of my first murder mystery, The Accused Architect. Activity has been picking up in word of mouth, email, and social media. It’s kind of a steady drip, no huge commotion, and certainly no buzz right now, but this post-publication phase has me wondering what may come. Will there be buzz? Will it be good? This is not something I expected to be thinking about this summer. But there it is. There’s not much I can do about it except continue to share my work, give my honest thoughts about the process, and engage with folks when they bring up the subject. I understand there’s really no point to think about it, but it occupies my thoughts nonetheless.
This has been a good writing year for me, first with the invitation to co-author The 28-Day Thought Diet , the publication of my murder mystery The Accused Architect in May, and election to office at Detroit Working Writers. What’s interesting is that in a space of six months, my sheltered writing life has become much more public. Formerly, I wrote in quiet solitude at home or in coffee shops, and shared my work regularly with an intimate, supportive group of fellow writers. Now, people in my daily life, including a dozen co-workers, are reading the book. Folks at the local bakery ask me about it. I’ve been interviewed for the local paper (and they sent a photographer!). I’m not sure I’m ready for the visibility and attention. Honestly, it’s a little uncomfortable. To put my stories out into the world has been the goal since I was a teenager, and the publication success is wonderful, but to have my words read and responded to by people face to face is a bit unnerving. I must have assumed all the readers would be “out there” and any feedback would be at arm’s length. Yet, I must confess, it’s truly a joy when someone comes up to my desk at work, full of excitement and smiles, and exclaims “I just finished your book!”
Am I ready for buzz, good or bad or non-existent? It’s a totally different energy, atmosphere, situation than anything I’ve previously experienced. Whatever is said, or doesn’t, I know I can deal with it, but this is a part of the writing process I didn’t think too much about beforehand. I’ve been holed up with my index cards, private thought pattern, and laptop so long it’s weird to talk about my work with people outside of my writing group.
To liken this to buying a new pair of shoes, I may have a bit of pinching and chaffing for a while, but hopefully this type of social interaction will eventually become comfortable.
To stretch my comfort zone further, I created a few YouTube videos. I’m generally awkward in front of the camera. Do I look stupid? What do I say? But I pushed through all that and, in a way–really–it was fun. But now I find that I’m steeling myself for people’s reactions. The writing, the work, the videos are such a part of me, the personal me, it’s like my children are hanging out there. I want to scream: No! Get back in here! But, as Patricia MacLachlan said, “It doesn’t belong to me anymore; it belongs to the reader.” Once the words are published, once the video is out there, the kids are on their own. It’s up to them to make their own way.
Maybe the best thing is for me to go back to my quiet writing space, not worry about the social aspects (what can I do anyway?), and write another novel. When I bump into someone with a comment on the street or at the grocery store, I’ll try to feel the joy of this process and this new, social, aspect of my writing life.
Heart flecks the pages
as the work grows from inside me
Can I keep it safe? Perhaps grasped
strong and raised up for a moment
like a glass of wine, for others to see
from across the room
With doubt, I know the dream
must be conveyed, translated, lived
out and felt lively by the reader from
the refuge of wherever she feels safe
I make it a share gift from me to her
Given freely, to consider, inhale,
climb into like a catsuit. Play, drink
the long day and suck the marrow
from its very bones. But freedom is
complete and the choices are hers.
My share gift includes tethers thin
as fishing line, strong as sutures
bound to my chest, to my scalp
The work given to her in blessing,
its essence remains connected to my own.