R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got. They’re from Claire’s

on June 8, 2012

Rhonda! I thought you wrote a book or whatever! What’s going on with that? You were like OMG I GOT AN AGENT and made us think you were about to pay off all our mortgages ‘n shit.

I understand the confusion, and I’m sorry for leaving you hanging. So let me update you on my long, arduous road to publication, and then we’ll talk cabbage.

I’ve finished the latest round of revisions on my first manuscript. It’s middle-grade fiction (for kids between the ages of 8ish and 12ish). Or, as some middle-grade writers like to say, “It’s a sweet story for all ages.” That just means we want you to buy it and love it, even if you’re not a kid anymore. Sometimes adults like the relative psychological safety of reading middle-grade and young adult fiction. And so what? I’m right there with you.

My agent, Linda, will decide what to do next. That’s why she makes the big money. Her rocks are real like Jenny’s. Ideally, Linda will sell the manuscript to a publishing house. And when that happens, believe me, you’ll know because I will be ALL UP IN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA about it. And so will my mom (also named Linda, also has real rocks).

Jenny’s rocks are real.

In the meantime, I’m working on my second manuscript (a book is not a book until it’s published. Before that, it’s just a manuscript). I’m calling the second one upper middle-grade for now (for ages 10-14), but I’m just writing the story and we’ll worry more about categories later. Aside from both being set in the Florida Keys, the stories are very different, and I love them equally. I won’t waste your time by making some cheesy analogy involving a writer’s stories and her children, but you get it.

And now on to why you suffered through this whole thing–your mortgage payoff. Here’s the straight and unfortunate skinny: There’s no big money in writing. I hope I’m not giving away things I shouldn’t–like a magician who exposes trade secrets then becomes an industry outcast. But really, it’s true, even for most highly commercial fiction. Unless you’re some kind of freak like Suzanne Collins.

Sure, we all want to be that freak–of course we do. Of course we want to spend the summer at an artists’ retreat in a castle in Italy (two of my writer friends are actually doing this, and they deserve it very much). But writers aren’t banking on the freaky good money.

We’ve done our homework, including having earned relatively useless graduate degrees that we’re still paying for, and we’ve learned that we’d probably make anywhere from two to 70 billion times as much by teaching or bussing tables. And we’ve decided to write anyway (and also). Actually, you’d be surprised to learn how many of your favorite authors have day jobs. But they can’t help but keep at their craft. They’re writers. Sick in the head.

So there you have it. I’m still Jenny from the block, minus the rocks (and the abs). Still Rhonda from the South End, unpublished and broke. And I’m not just saying that because I’m coming home for the summer next week and I want you to buy all my drinks.

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22 responses to “Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got. They’re from Claire’s

  1. Emily says:

    Ha! I love this post, Rhonda. (And I love your writing style, by the way.)

    Along with the “Aren’t you published yet?” question, I also get a lot of “It took you FOUR years to write one book? What the hell’s wrong with you?”

  2. Wait. What? No one told me this wasn’t going to make me a bazillionaire.

  3. My rocks are real? What does that even mean?! Like I’m dripping in diamonds? LOL! I can’t wait to meet you in person Rhonda. My favorite piece of jewelry is a shell I found in Costa Rica on a leather string… (Okay, okay! I DO have a beautiful hunk of gold on my finger, but that’s literally the gold ring I got for 20 years of being married to the same guy, which is so much like a merry-go-round it’s not even funny!) I want J. Lo’s abs. Actually, I just want abs instead of flabs…

  4. Emily says:

    I make myself feel better by informing them all that I actually wrote three books: one awful, one less awful and one good. It’s writers’ math: 3 books = 1 book.

  5. Greybeard says:

    Buy your drinks? Where in Key West can we buy your drinks (when we come down in August)?

  6. Sally_Oh says:

    Surely there is money in writing for someone so clever and funny and warm. SURELY!!! (I’m talking about you, not me. For once.)

    • Haha! Thanks, Sally. That’s awesome coming from you–a crazy good writer (married to another crazy good writer…how is it that you two haven’t taken over the world yet?)

  7. I personally make megabillkajillions of dollars as a writer. I just like to keep it on the down low, unlike J. Lo. < — See, I even write poetry like a pro. < —- OMG I just did it again!

  8. kozubalk says:

    Totally unrelated (for some reason I actually thought of this yesterday in the middle of a random project): your Mom made me a pineapple-upside-down cake once a long time ago. It was excellent on so many levels. First, it was delish, of course, duh. Second, it was for a luau. How perfect is that? Pineapple cake for a Hawaiian-themed party? Only your mom – perfect. Third, your mom couldn’t even come to the party she baked that cake for (or “for which she baked said cake” if you’re one of those writers who prefer real grammar). But she brought it over anyway. Worst part about this story, that cake was for my first wedding shower. That is, the shower for my first wedding, and really, my only wedding shower, regardless. I could so digress on that topic but for the sake of all your lovely readers I won’t. I just felt compelled to mention Linda’s very generous cake, and that I haven’t forgotten about it. I may not have given back the amazing knife set like Kim Kardashian, but still, I remember that great cake.

    • Awe, that’s really sweet! She’ll be so happy to hear that. It’s her signature cake, you know. She won’t even tell me how to make it. Not that I’d ever bake a cake. I have to call her every time I want to hard boil eggs to ask how to do it (not a joke).

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