I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation…or do I?

I’ve been holding out on you.  Sort of.

Before I started writing YA novels I wrote most of a book, a novella at least, of memoir essays about all the horrible jobs I’ve had.  Every couple of months I click on my “Other writing” folder and read through them again.  Most of them are funny and all still make me laugh.  I used to get up to some ridiculous shenanigans in my youth. (Um, like, five years ago.)

There are some reasons why I haven’t published the essays:

1. I didn’t know how to transition from one essay to the next.  There is the common narrative thread of “sucky jobs” that runs throughout, but a block of the essays take place in my teens and another block in my mid-twenties.  Sometimes I’m in Missouri, sometimes Oregon, sometimes California.

2. Some of the essays are funnier than others.  So which is it?  Hilarious tales of my misspent youth, or “there are consequences to acting like a total jackass, kids.”  The tone is off.

3. The book isn’t long enough.  I need to add probably five more essays.  Can I even remember five more good stories?

4.  Should I put something out that is a completely different genre from what I’ve published already?  Will I alienate my current readers and/or gain some new ones?  I like reading memoir essays and paranormal YA novels, but how many other people do? 

5. I’ve already used my real name for the YA stuff, and a variation of that name for the grown-up paranormal writing.  With memoir, I can’t go changing my name for that.  It really, really is me.

6. Let’s just say I started out as a Zellie, moved on to be a Claire, and then had a few Flora years.  These essays are not something a 14-year-old should be reading.

A few of these reasons have worked themselves out in the last couple of days.

I read A Walk in the Snark by Rachel Thompson.  She’s a funny lady and I like her writing style.  Her book is also a good example for transitioning between essays (or in her case blog posts) that have a similar narrative thread (relationships) but are about different people and time periods.  So, I think I’ve got a handle on that.

As it turns out, I could think of five more stories.  In fact, I made a list and I thought of seventeen.

Last night, after I’d finished my Glow writing for the day, I wrote an introduction to the essays and started a new one.  I wrote about 2K on the new essay and will most likely finish it today after I finish the Glow chapter I’ve been working on.

I can check writing more essays off the list.

As for tone, I think the transitions will help even that out.  Also, I played around with the order of the essays last night and if I don’t read them chronologically, I come off as a more balanced person. 🙂

This leaves the genre question, the “outing my bad reputation” question, and to a lesser extent, the name question.  I’d love to hear what you all think about this.  Am I wasting my time putting a book together that I shouldn’t publish?

Cheers.

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14 thoughts on “I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation…or do I?

  1. I love your books. I’ve read the Zellie Books and the DOS novellas. I also read Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris, so I’m down for a good book of essays. It’s not unheard of for authors to cross genres. And as a fan of yours, I would trust you to put out a good and entertaining book. If you’re afraid of confusing your fan base, just explain it like you did here. Any real fan will get it and the adults will probably be thrilled.

  2. I don’tknow about everyone else, but I totally want to read these?! Mostly because I’ve probaby shared at least two of said “sucky” jobs with you. 😉

    I say, Bring it! Your humorous narrative voice is freaking hilarious, and totally “you”.

    If it makes you feel more comfortable with the outting, maybe you can write them under a pen name?

    1. There are indeed a few essays with you in them. Ramada and when we tried to be “figure models” are two. You’re going to have to beta read and let me know if you want to be outted along with me.:)
      I can definitely change your name, although there is a bit about our boss at the Ramada constantly calling you Crystal. Ha!

  3. It depends on what you want from it. The beauty of “our time” is that we can publish whatever we want so *I* say, go for it. It probably won’t help the sales of your other books but you’ll reach a new audience and there will be some crossover. Everything I write is different but my slower selling books are always linked to the others so some people try them all.

    Even if you don’t get much crossover, I still think branching out is a good idea. It’s good to experiment with different things and I am now intrigued to know what you got up to. I would love to find another person who was worse than me. 😉

    You should probably listen to bad reputation advice from someone more cautious than me but I would say go for it on all counts.

  4. Well, you know what I’ll say. Do it!! I would love to read The Toilet Business again. And other stories… 😉

  5. I’ve always liked to keep everything under one name. Roald Dahl did too (The Twits vs. Switch Bitch!).

    I wouldn’t worry too much about readers/customers. As long as the genre is clearly labelled (and a sample is provided), it should be all right.

  6. Isn’t that the beauty of self publishing? You’re not limited by someone else’s idea of what will sell. I think most readers will like that you’re publishing whatever you’re writing.

    I struggle with the question of reputation. What would my coworkers say (or my grandmother) if they knew I write romance… Oh, and the characters aren’t even human. Sure to go over well.

    But so what?

  7. Since you said above to Claire that it was killing you not to do something with them, I say go for it.

    My understanding is that memoir is a tough sale. I wouldn’t expect huge sales from this, but so what? It’s not like your publisher is going to drop you for poor numbers.

    As far as your readership goes, you know that I just don’t get most of the thing about “confusing” readers and changing out names all the time (which I think is confusing). There should be something about the title and cover that makes it clear, even before reading the description in which it is explicit, that this is something different from what you’ve been doing. And then your readers are free to choose whether they want it or not. It seems like it would be a great thing for hardcore fans, memoir/biography fans, and your aspiring writer fans.

    I don’t know that any of us is at a point where we’re so auto-buy to our readers that we really need to worry about throwing something different into the mix. We’re just getting started. And if you do end up with something so witty and amusing that it sells on its own, then it does have the potential to bring new readers to your fiction and that would be awesome.

    I hope that’s helpful.

    1. It is! I think I was hesitant because I have been burned by some readers being angry about the non-YA content of the DoS stories when I thought I’d done what I could to make it clear exactly what they were.
      The name changing is confusing and I don’t want to add another name to the mix.
      I’m definitely not expecting to sell a lot of these, but, y’know, one is more than zero. 🙂
      Thanks for your input! I wanted to hear what you had to say on the matter.

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