Stories to Sell, Stories to Tell

Author Monica Barnett's book cover.

Author Monica Barnett’s book cover.

Being a book nerd does not always equate to being an introvert. (Though who are we kidding? It does in my case.) However, sometimes even an introvert can be peeled away from their cozy nest long enough to get a fresh gulp of air and some recent gossip with a few of their closest friends. Because it’s birthday month, I’ve been a lot more willing to “go big or go home” when it comes to socializing. Which meant that yesterday found me at an evening book event with 60 of my not-so-closest friends. Strangers..oh, the horror! (Kidding!)

There were four, female authors in the line-up for the evening, each reflecting different genres…rather refreshing, actually. Each spoke not only to their recent book but rather prefaced their discussions with stories about their own lives, how they got their start, how the writing/publishing process impacted them, etc. I actually stayed longer than I had meant to, and there were quite a few gems to take away for reflection back at the cozy nest. Once again demonstrating why it is that sometimes leaving the house can be a good thing. Sigh.

For instance, it was really interesting to hear one author state her belief that she felt like there was, “at least one book” in each of us and that it was a matter of writing it and then finding the audience who was receptive to it. That gave me pause because honestly I began this blog less with the thought that anyone would care and more because I’ve always had a yearning to write just for fun. Committing to writing a blog about nothing in particular, even if it was absolute rubbish, has become something to look forward to in a hectic week. The woman who spoke these words was author Monica Barnett, an entrepreneur and image consultant who has worked with no less than First Lady Michelle herself! Buying her fashion-focused book wasn’t a hard sell to begin with but hearing her speak made me very much look forward to reading (and reviewing it) very soon.

Another of the authors commented on how, like myself, she had been writing since an early age. She actually left a career in journalism to become a full-time mom, and found that though she loved her life, there was still something missing. Like me, she randomly turned to her computer and began to write. Her first book wasn’t the success story (plot twist!) but her second one was and the rest is history. She noted how important it was to just make the time to do it…the writing, that is. Get the words on paper and wait until it’s done to tear it apart, as she sagely noted, “you can’t edit a blank page”. There would seem to be something very profound-and applicable to life- in that, don’t you think? A naturally cautious and reserved person, how often do I not do/start something because I’m concerned about how messy it will end up? Yet nothing will ever become of what has never been started to begin with, including one’s life. Author Sarah Pekkanen’s books are among Today Show host, Hota Kotb’s favorite things. And though I’m not much of a morning t.v. watcher (Sleep, glorious sleep!), I’ve put Ms. Pekkanen’s books on my list of those to check-out soon with the hope that I’ll pull out a few other nuggets to wrap my ever active brain around.

Political correspondent and author Amie Parnes was another of the featured authors and probably in my salad days I’d have “been done read” her book already. Back then I was a poli-sci major who made my way to the nation’s capital under the auspices of someday becoming Madeleine Albright. Tough town that it is, I soon realized that that was not actually a path I would have enjoyed or even been good at. And being pretty naturally skeptical of “the next big thing” to begin with, I soon grew tired of being inundated by news of the political variety in a town that makes it it’s bread and butter. Still, Ms. Parnes was refreshing as a human being and her book is about Madame Hillary, very likely to at least be in the running as the next big thing, so perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to peruse her book’s pages in the near future.

Last but not least was one of the most compelling storytellers of the night, author Judy Bachrach who makes her living as an investigative journalist and contributing editor of Vanity Fair. I’ve always liked this magazine as, besides having the most beautiful photography, the articles tend to be a contemporary mix of politics, fashion, business, and humor. The writing isn’t drivel…because of one of their articles, I was once able to talk about coal mining with an environmentalist I met on an elevator at a museum. Not only did their eyes light up that I was informed about the issue they’d come to lobby about (who doesn’t like to be validated randomly by a stranger?) but I impressed another colleague who overheard the conversation and had had no idea I had such an eclectic store of knowledge. Useless information, did you say?

Ms. Bachrach’s story of writing a book about life after death, one that fundamentally changed her own beliefs, was engaging in the extreme. You could have heard a pin drop as she spoke and though it did flit through my mind that ultimately, all of these ladies’ stories were “for sale” at the end of all of this, it made me feel like even so, there’s a value in telling a story, irrespective of the proceeds one might reap. In the case of Judy Bachrach, it came in the form of a comfort she’d never had before.

For me, with all of three followers, I guess it’s the ability to not think and just do, for once. And if you three happen to enjoy the end resulte, well I guess that’s a bonus!

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