Entering phase two – Deborah Disney
By Deborah Disney
The other day I found myself feeling quite stung by the words of a good friend who was really only trying to offer her help. ♥
I am in that ‘just published’ phase which, from my position of very, very limited experience, already seems as if it may just be the toughest. The book is out there. It is DONE. There is no more disturbing my husband by turning the light on at 3am and tippety-tapping away with that idea that just came to me and is so brilliant that I don’t want to forget it. Until I read it again at 9am the next day and realise it is completely naff. There are no more excuses for the chaotic ‘bomb-blast’ look which I have adopted as my house’s latest decor. The weight is starting to creep back on as I can no longer get through an eight-hour stint on nothing other than a cup of tea. Which gets microwaved three times before it is finished. Of even greater concern, there are no more chances to trawl through thesaurus.com and find a better word for ‘stunning’. It is what it is. Phase One – the writing phase – is OVER. That might sound like it should bring some level of relief. But for me, I like Phase One. Phase One is why I am doing this. Phase One is why I am participating in Phase Two.
Do you all know about Phase Two? The getting-people-to-notice-you phase? Am I alone in this, or does it strike other authors as not just a little ironic, a universal practical joke, that in this modern world of publishing, authors need to make themselves highly visible? Authors – so often the most insular people you know. Not insular meaning unfriendly. The authors I have met so far have been wonderfully friendly and supportive. But insular meaning that they look deep within themselves. Stuff never just ‘flows over’ an author. It is all taken in. Authors are also the people who ask the really searching questions, who observe acutely, who pick up on even the slightest change of mood in those around them. Authors pay attention. Authors, so often, hate being the centre of attention themselves. But Phase Two is really all about that. Phase Two is all about getting attention. Phase Two is GET OUT THERE AND BE SEEN. Get out and amongst it. Get on Facebook. Get on Twitter. Display your face all over a website, in the local newspaper, on radio. Wherever you can. Whatever you can do. JUST MAKE SURE PEOPLE NOTICE YOU. None of these things have actually been said to me by anyone, by the way. These are just the things I know because, well, I pay attention.
And so it is in this Phase Two that I now find myself. And it is perhaps more of an irony for me than it is for many others. In all the after-Facebook years leading up to publication (the world now for me being clearly divided between before-Facebook and after-Facebook – BF and AF, if you will) I wanted no part of it. I was a die-hard Facebook resistor. Now I have to have self-imposed Facebook ban periods to get myself off there. And it’s not that I like it for the getting myself attention part. I am still not all that comfortable with that. No, it is more about the paying attention to others part. Facebook is like the world’s best smorgasbord for people who like paying attention to others.
So back to my friend. In an effort to help me along with Phase Two, she rang and left a message about a radio segment that she had heard about which was coming on the next day. They were looking for people who had had a change of career later in life to come on the program and discuss it. ‘That’d be perfect, Deb,’ she said in her message. ‘Because you could talk about how you used to be a solicitor and then you know, you went into the automotive industry, and then you did that house reno, and now you’re an author’. And that’s the bit that stung. All of a sudden I felt like she sees me as someone who just flits from one ‘career’ to another, never really finding the right fit. And that this whole ‘author thing’ will just be another career that I try on and find out that my butt looks too big in it.
So it made me think about my whole ‘career path’. The truth is, I do consider myself as having had a career change, but only one. I was a solicitor, and now I am an author. The stuff that was in between was not about me and my career. It was about doing what I had to do at the time. It was about eating. So yes, in between my career as a solicitor and my career as an author, I have worked in my husband’s motor dealership, and I have ‘flipped’ a house (the longest running house-flip of the century, but that’s okay, I got it done). Before I was a solicitor, I was also a deli-chick and I was a live-in nanny. And a live-out nanny. I loved all of the children I nannied to pieces, and so I would not call those nannying jobs ‘work’, but I never saw nannying or any of these other jobs as a career. It was just that in each of those periods of my life, well, I needed to eat. And after I stopped practising as a solicitor when my first child was a baby and I realised I had been mistaken and that I couldn’t in fact have it all, helping my husband in his business made sense. It put us on the same team. The team that put food on the table.
But when my second child started school a couple of years ago, I started thinking less about eating, and more about nourishing my soul. And writing does that for me. So I started writing. And I was very, very lucky, and I managed to write something that HarperCollins wanted to publish. So now I am an author, and I have a new career. A second career. Even as I type this post, though, saying ‘now I am an author’ still feels a little surreal. I want so badly for it to be true, for it to be my second career that sometimes it is scary to admit it, even to myself. But I think there is only one way to make it come true. And that’s to give it all I’ve got. Which is why I am working my way through Phase Two.
I admit that at times I have wondered if I can call it a career if I only sell five books? I guess working my way through that crisis of confidence will be Phase Three. I will have to report back on that one.
Australian author Deborah Disney grew up in the regional city of Toowoomba and now lives in Brisbane with her husband and two school-aged daughters. She practised as a solicitor for a number of years before having children. Her debut novel, Up and In, is a satirical look at the interactions of school and sporting mums.