IVP - Behind the Books - Under the Covers

March 26, 2008

Under the Covers

My wife had lunch yesterday with a new friend. "Lunch" involved some of the perfunctory niceties of new friendships: "Where did you grow up?" "Are you married?" "What does your spouse do?" That sort of thing. My wife very loyally dropped the hint that in addition to being a book editor, her husband is a published author with a second book on the way. (We're always looking for ways to jack up our royalty checks, which I am assured will eventually be forthcoming, just as soon as a few of my books sell.) My wife's new friend was duly impressed--I daresay doe-eyed. "Wow . . . it must be so exciting being married to a published author . . ."

My wife very diplomatically responded, "Sure, sure it is."

Steel yourself for a difficult truth, IVP authors and, more important, IVP author-spouses: marital excitement has little to do with publication. If it softens the blow at all, let me quickly add that marital excitement has even less to do with editorial aptitude.

Now, maybe your experience has been different than mine--or should I say, my wife's. I welcome your comments here about the bliss of being married to a book author. But I think my wife's experience today points to a different phenomenon: the mystification of celebrity. The objective sexiness of any given author notwithstanding, there's something sexy--in a nerdy sort of way--about showing up on a guided search of the Library of Congress (using Boolean operators, of course). Authors have other sexy indicators as well--the press release, the publicity agent, the media interviews, the byline, the eponymous website. This is the thin air that publishing a book sends you rocketing into. It can go to your head, believe me.

But before terribly long every author comes back down to earth. As the attention of the reading public turns to the next crop of new releases, even the sexiest authors are returned to the solid ground of their own normalcy. The folks they interact with day after day--if they are lucky--quickly and persistently remind them that the atmosphere they entered upon publication, enticing as it was, does not a sustainable life make.

So pity your loved ones, authors, because the fawning gets old, and it's entirely possible that you're not as sexy as you're being led to believe you are. And enjoy your moment, as the glossy finish of your book jacket distracts your readers from your three-dimensional humanity, which is to say your finitude, your fallenness, your normalcy.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at March 26, 2008 3:17 PM Bookmark and Share


Dave, I love this. If you hadn't forewarned me, I might even fawn over it.

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at March 27, 2008 10:18 AM

I get dizzy when the air gets to thin.

Comment by: cas at March 27, 2008 11:00 AM

Dave, this cracked me up. At least your wife can claim you are a published author. Even less sexy is the unpublished writer wannabe who keeps spending mornings writing stuff that never generates a cent. Not that I'm confessing to feelings of inadequacy or anything. : )

Comment by: Mark Goodyear at March 27, 2008 11:02 AM

me too, too, too, Mark.

Comment by: cas at March 27, 2008 11:53 AM

I got around that problem by making my wife a co-author.

Comment by: Andy at March 27, 2008 6:27 PM

Haha. Nice. I ran into a slightly similar story on Wednesday night when I met a new group of people from my church. "What? You're a freelance writer who traveled in Africa last fall? How glamorous!" Then we got to the part of the story where I was working at Starbucks until I left on that trip and the part where I never really know quite how the bills will be paid. Glamor is fleeting, especially when you talk about picking up trash in the parking lot at said Starbucks (which I actually enjoyed because it meant I was outside in the sun).

Comment by: Kami at March 28, 2008 9:17 AM

I'm an introvert experiencing the thin air for the first time. What I've discovered about it all is this: I like two things, writing and walking in the woods. If I could write books, then go hide in the woods till they have been published, purchased, read, and forgotten, I'd be happy (as long as "purchased" is a significant part of the progression).

Comment by: Matt at March 28, 2008 11:35 AM

Um, Dave, are you in there? Did you get smothered under the covers? Is the latest BTB post in there with you? Dave? Dave...

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at April 10, 2008 4:47 PM

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