publisher has no life. Bound up in details, I live in an
author-eat-author world. I act as proverbial judge, jury, executioner.
New judges can make mistakes but
try to limit them. If hasty, they can convict the innocent while
condemning the guilty. Too many good books have died in the
penitentiary of a publisher’s whims. Conversely, others have been
released that should have rolled via the executioner’s block.
We can make what often amounts
to arbitrary choices due to the flood of paperwork thrust upon the
judgment bar: “Free the convicted!” “Sentence commuted!” “Life without
We are looked to as robed gods:
Heartless statues draped in black who, if mollified, will grant an
author’s wildest dreams—an everlasting memorial on Heaven’s Hall of
At the end of the day the
courtroom empties, the sanctuary rings hollow, and we stand alone,
disrobed, smudged, and unmistakably human (traits we inherently possess
but which few choose to notice). Gavel aside, I step off the (manmade)
pedestal and palm a pen. I become the defendant, etch my sentence and
determine my fate.
I sit at the entrance to the
cell block of life. I’ve been asked to write, and knowing the warden’s
penchant for excellence, I dare not refuse. I am prisoner; I am warden.
For the next days and lifetimes, I pay for my mistakes, scratch out my
confessions, envision an electric chair.
The day finally arrives. I hear
heavy steps on the hallway down from me. Rounding the bend and clacking
in unison, the steady footfalls play on my nerves. I scribble out a few
last words, hoping they will do. I append a name.
It can’t be long now before the
verdict falls. Is this what every writer must face? Will the ruling be
as fair as those I strive to render? Time will tell; the waiting is
A hulking form (made larger by
the shadows) strides confidently up, flagged by minions of comparative
influence. “Give it to me,” he barks. (Or is it a she?
Gender loses significance in this land of risk.) He grabs my pile of
life—those pages of me—and begins to finger them like so much trash.
snickers and sneers, then glances over the top to view the submissive.
Yes, I admit it: He’s got me. I’m his. I’ve sold my soul for his
affection and now I pay.
Meekly I rise and follow the
heartless automaton leading me out. We come to a door, metal and
foreboding. He sneaks a last look back at me, confident judge turned
cowering author; he sneers again. The door creaks open, he pushes me
through, and I find myself staring at my laptop, hammering on
multilettered keys, tense . . .
I love writing. I can’t imagine
life without it. Though publishing is my profession, writing is my
I publish to further the cause
of great books and authors. I write to find myself and release that
knowledge to the wind.
For me, writing is integral to
living, to breathing: It’s cell deep and tight. Without it I die, limb
by unleafed limb.
I write when I can, between
phone calls, e-mails, while relaxing on the couch at the end of the day
with hubby. Writing drains off the publishing stresses that threaten to
press me between their dog-eared pages.
I enjoy sitting with the
computer on my lap at night while watching a movie. I peck away at my
latest work in progress, a book of vignettes and poems, a sort of
memoir of what I’ve learned in this fleeting lifetime. For me it’s
about as close to heaven on earth as I can imagine. And when my
family’s close by or a friend’s on the line, a toe is touching glory.