Monday, February 14, 2011

RESPECTING THE STORY (or the oil and water of this business)

Dear Friends, Fellow authors, and A Good Blog is Hard to Find Faithful Readers,

Here we are gathered in this room hanging out on the edge of the net and touching one another with our words. And that's exactly what I want to talk about. This month we are speaking about publicity, what to do to give that book a push, to find its readers, to connect with the world but I realized that Patty Callahan Henry just waxed eloquent on the joys of getting out and getting to know your public. Last summer I drummed up a few mistakes I'd made along the way. You can find that post here. 
Me waxing on about the mistakes and learning curves of the publishing business - or what I know now that I wish I knew then:

And a few days ago Shellie told it the way it was about the rubber meeting the road here: 
Shellie Rushing Tomlinson wrote about taking it on, the real world and the art of publicity

And our gracious, talented friend Kerry basically taught a class on giving back with a photo montage from the road that speaks volumes here:
Kerry Madden talks about giving back while getting it right:

Then I literally spent time reviewing a year of blog posts on A Good Blog is Hard to Find. Amazing. Incredible. Honors and Kudos one and all. And again a special nod to Karin Gillespie for beginning this blog and for Kathy Patrick for the undertaking of it's continuance. How I wish I had been able to tap into this incredible resource so many, many years ago. I think this blog should be required reading for young people, old people and all those in between who struggle and strive to write a story, touch a heart, and get their work published and read in this wild and every-changing business. I think this resource so valuable that I'm going to settle in this week with coffee, notebook and pen in hand and honestly take notes from the authors that have had such incredible, down-to-earth, been there and done it raw advice. This is the kind of advice we PAY for at writing conferences and to PR firms. Seriously. 

That being said - I have nothing to add to this subject that hasn't been captured. Not a clue, not a key. 

BUT -  - - I do have a little something on my mind. 

As the days wear long, with The Miracle of Mercy Land only debuting a few months ago, with Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit rising to the surface April 5th, 2011 - I have been in a constant state of editing, or promoting for months. (Yes, never mind that I do that little Radio show thing on the side - but people, I do so love author talks, festival news, a GOOD review, and a few great tunes to set the mood. - I'm kinda, well, addicted in the most wonderful way to a little Clearstory every week.) And what I want to say is - looks like those days of authors hanging in Paris with other writers and then moodily walking those smokey streets back to hang over the typewriter and stir up stories like the end of the world was pressing in and all humanity hung in the balance - are over~ 

These days - it's promote, promote, promote. Are you on Twitter? Facebook? How often do you post? Who do you know? What have you done to sell books TODAY? Traveling? Cruising? Talking?

All good and great and needed things in today's screaming society of plugged in professionalism - yet . . . I've got this story  waiting to be told. A big one. It's southern, dark, demanding, dreamy and full of the fight for redemption and the places we have to find in ourselves to forgive and find our way back to the truth. 
BUT - without those dedicated hours where I respectively step back from the PUBLICITY demands of the upcoming book, road tour, social media, Publisher emails, the bing of my smart phone, the call, the demand, the scream of the BUSINESS of this Writing life - there will be no writing life left worthy of all those efforts on my part, my publisher, or my publicist.

I've been looking at the serious output of creative madness of some of our counterparts from the days of old. Men and women with long lives, and histories of making love to the page with a touch of madness. God bless them everyone. Because we need them. We need those words that don't bear the rhythm of us simultaneously trying to answer sixteen emails and forty live chats while bidding on a leather bag from Italy while we write the next line. We need the words from a generation that respected the work of the writer, the REAL work of THE WRITER. The Words they weave into THE Story. 

And we need each other. We need the stories that usher us out of the silence of our souls. We need the incredible clarity that those stories bring to our cluttered lives. The words that so beautifully illuminate our existence and help us laugh at ourselves and love one another again.

. I thank you for every writer that gives a leg up to another writer, blogs on their work, facebooks

But I also ask you, beg you, implore you - step away from the blessed promotional work we all shoulder, burden, and carry - even celebrate - to write. To simply,  strongly, passionately - write. Step away from the noise. Carve out precious HOURS not moments to write uninterrupted. Find a corner, a coffee shop, a library or a graveyard but make a covenant with yourself NOT to answer the bells and whistles that scream for your attention. Dive in and gloriously lose yourself in the characters, place, setting, and creation that awaits.  I assure you, the world will be waiting for you, for me, for all of us, still clamoring and demanding when we return. 

IN the greediest moment of your life, grab that story asking to be told, and don't let go of it 'till it's told. In the most complete,  most powerful way possible.

RIVER JORDAN is the author of four novels, and a collection of essays.  Her first published non-fiction work inspired by a New Year’s Resolution – Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit will be published by Penguin/BerkleyApril 5, 2011. Ms. Jordan teaches and speaks on ‘The Power of Story’  and produces and hosts the radio program, Clearstory, on WRFN, 107.1 FM, Nashville. Jordan and her husband live in Nashville, TN. You may visit the author at or visit 


Patti Callahan Henry said...

Amen, Sista!

Joshilyn said...

Patti took the word out of my mouth, but she left me these two:

Preach it!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. Yes, I need to do just as you've said, but I also have to make some bucks. Oh to find the balance!

Renea Winchester said...

Amen Preacher Jordan !

Ronlyn said...

Yes, River, absolutely!!!! There might be brutal sacrifices ahead for some, perhaps many, of us. I know that I could not have been writing this second novel without the enormous stretch of time and quiet I was miraculously given (yes, given) and subsequently took. If I face a future of constant promotion, I don't think I'll ever write something as deep as what's about to be finished. My guess is that those with the means will hire out for ongoing marketing and publicity, perhaps even day-to-day social networking by use of proxy. For the rest, well, the job description for writer just got much, much longer.

River Jordan said...

Thank you all my sisters in arms of understanding. I know we want to promote our work and even more so with more enthusiasm we are quick to promote words of friends. But somehow, SOMEHOW, we must continue to to promote but control the whirlwind of publicity by riding this wild beast and not let it ride us straight into the ground in the process so that ultimately, our writing continues to come from the deep, deep places within us.

Yours from the Choir

Anna Michaels said...

Hallejuah, River! Amen!

Shellie Tomlinson said...

Lord have mercy, we almost need an altar call after this one, a writer's version of an altar call that is. Is Tell It Like It Is playing in everyone's heads, or just mine?

River Jordan said...


You are exceedingly funny always but it did get a little preach on and Amen didn't it. Okay, alter call for writers? Confession of how many words they have ignored and said I"m too busy f/bing to listen - and then putting their fingers on the keys, their pen to the paper - losing themselves in story and creating.