Pam Ferderbar writes about confidence and what it takes to laugh out loud.
My publisher recently sent me to a regional Romance Writers of America convention although my genre, contemporary fiction/humor/chicklit, is not romance. Assured I would make great contacts and “learn something,” I landed on a planet completely other than my own. In this world the women wore tiaras during the day, some sported fairy wings and hot pink boas, and every single one of them wrote multiple books each year.
This impressed the hell out of me, but I was also mortified. How on earth was it possible to write even one whole book in a year? Some of the scribes in stilettos wrote five and six in a contiguous 12-month period. Knock me over with a fuchsia marabou quill.
My weekly little blog often takes days to complete and it usually comes in around 600 words, or one and a third pages in book math. At that rate it takes a year to write a 300-page book, and that assumes the author is “on” and “productive” and “writing sentences.”
As if those requirements aren’t daunting enough, now make it funny! Nothing inspires anxiety more than trying to be witty. I know I’m weird. People reinforce that concept daily. So even though I crack myself up all the time, I can’t be sure others will he-he along with me.
Sure, your friends will tell you “of course it’s funny. You’re funny!” But there is always a weird blip of silence right after that comment, which is just long enough for someone to ask silently, without lips moving at all, ‘It was supposed to be funny?’
These are the thoughts that prevent me from writing two to seven uproarious volumes of repartee every 365 days. At the same time as I’m spooked by the thought of that, another more horrifying thought occurs to me. Imagine, day after day, week after week, angsty month upon angsty month … of trying to write sexy?!
Do the gals with the tiaras and the sneezey pink stoles, who are sooo in touch with their inner sex goddesses, somehow just know there’s a great audience of readers out there who will find their specific combination of words on the page to be steamy, romantic and oo la la?
I have discipline, drive, and a thesaurus. What did the prolific romance authors populating the conference have that I didn’t? I looked around and immediately ascertained that for one thing they had sparkly tiaras and diaphanous fairy wings affixed to their backs. And that’s when it hit me. Confidence. It all boils down to confidence.
If a plus-sized woman can wear fairy wings and 73 layers of Stevie Nicks silk and tulle, with Crocs — in public — and write six books a year (that sell like hotcakes) in which a horny cowboy/vampire ravages a slip of a shape-shifter girl with long legs and a tiny waist, then what the big-boned gal has over me is 3X confidence. She’s not worried that people are silently asking her “was it supposed to be sexy?” She just keeps writing.
On Sunday evening at the end of the conference, I was in the restroom wiping bits of pink fluff off my lip where it had stuck to my lip gloss, when I had a funny thought. Conjuring my own powerful amulet of confidence, I dictated my funny thought into my phone. A lady in the stall beside me started to giggle, then others joined in. Soon the whole place was roaring.
Will I ever be able to write six books a year, or even one or two? I couldn’t tell you. But I will say that whatever I write will make someone laugh out loud. I’m confident.
Charlotte Nightingale has the worst luck in the world. Her cluttered apartment is the poster child for shar chi—poison luck in the realm of Feng Shui. Her boyfriend’s a jerk, her job sucks, she’s broke and her own family seems to hate her. Every day is a bad hair day. Kwan, a handsome Chinese food deliveryman and aspiring Feng Shui practitioner, takes pity on Charlotte. While Charlotte searches for the money to pay for the Emperor’s cashew chicken Kwan has delivered, he surreptitiously begins to move things around in Charlotte’s apartment in accordance with the ancient art of placement — hoping to improve her life. Charlotte’s luck subsequently appears to change in a big way. It goes from bad to worse — or so it seems.
Charlotte finds a photo of her boyfriend with another woman, her car dies, she is fired from her job, the plumbing in her apartment explodes, and making matters worse, Charlotte’s perfect perky designer-obsessed blonde sister is about to marry a square-jawed, richer-than-god, insanely handsome plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills and the entire family loves nothing more than to rub Charlotte’s nose in it.
Is it bad luck that sends Charlotte careening through calamity after calamity, or is it merely a matter of perspective? Without a loser boyfriend, beater car and crappy job, Charlotte is free to embark on a great adventure that will awaken in her a world of possibility where nothing is as simple as it seems. Until, in the end, Charlotte realises that everything she ever wanted was right under her nose the whole time.
Pam Ferderbar was born and raised in Wisconsin. She moved to Los Angeles, married the first man to see her fall off the turnip truck, wrote a short story that would later become Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale, began collecting stray dogs, divorced the man, fell in with a wild group of beachy goddesses, wrote a novel and then moved back to Wisconsin where the goddesses wear long underwear and cheese hats, and so do the men.