Monday, March 26, 2012

What to do when your imaginary friends talk back to you.

Um... Panic?

So last week, I wrote about how everyone's tastes are different, and told about one of my favorite books, The Obnoxious Jerks, by Stephen Manes. One Proser's Treasure

Yesterday, I saw Mr. Stephen Manes wrote a comment back...

Funny. I'm the guy who wrote that book, along with more than 30 others, including a new one about ballet that at 900+ pages is the opposite of flash fiction (you can check it out at And as coincidence would have it, The Obnoxious Jerks is set to return to "print" as an e-book in a week or two.
You're right. It never did win any awards. But it did rack up some good reviews, and for a time it was under option for a Hollywood movie that never got made. (The one person I knew who claimed to have seen the script--of course, they would never think of letting me take a whack at it--said it was truly ghastly.)
Like several of my other books, this one seems to have attracted something of an underground following, which was almost impossible for an author to find out about before the advent of the Web and the Google Vanity Search. It's gratifying to know that you've written something that's touched someone else, particularly when you're not the bestseller type. 
This book is one of the few I've written that has elements of autobiography. In my formative years, a bunch of us high-school misfits put together a club called The Lancers. Its logo was a steel pen, its motto "The pen is mightier." But though we did manage to pull a few authority-tweaking pranks, we were neither smart nor secure enough to invite girls into our ranks.
Thank you for putting fingers to keys so that your very moving words could appear on the screen. And rest assured that the e-book will have a much better cover than the awful one you displayed or the only marginally better one the publisher stuck onto the paperback. 


Ahem... So, after giggling like a twelve year old girl at a Justin Beiber concert, I read every word of Stephen Manes comments out loud to my husband, while the children looked on, and the meatloaf slowly congealed. During dinner, spastic little giggles escaped me, and then after I  left the table, I analyzed every word he said, and every word I said, and then every word he said again, also like a twelve year old girl.

Calm down, I told myself. You've written books as well. Four of them. He's a human being, and he's just another writer.You know writers. You know a lot of writers. He's not Justin Bieber, and you are not a twelve year old girl.

 I have a lot of friends that are writers, but they are all wannabe writers like me. I don't know why, but once someone gets published, I freak out and get nervous in their company. I was invited to join a book group that had a ton of awesome writers, including the brilliant Jessica Day George, and after going once I panicked over the depth of the awesomeness, (My little duck feet paddling at the top, like a creature that's full of hot air.), and quit.

To calm me down, I thought of guest Proser Karen Tiberius Smith's post some of my best friends are authors, and reminded myself to breath (yet again).  Then I thought of Sarah's post foray into fandom, and congratulated myself on not saying something idiotic ...unless that's what I'm doing right now...breathe Sheena, breathe.

But, mostly, I thought about how glad I am to be a Proser. If I hadn't been brave, even for a second, and emailed MaryAnn about maybe starting a blog together, I would never have had my voice heard by some 17,000 people, including the person who wrote one of my favorite books. I'm so grateful I was able to say thank you to the person who wrote the book that made my life better. I'm so glad he was able to hear how much that sweet funny book means to me.

Part of the advice you hear as a wannabe writer is the need to find your voice, but for me what I'm learning right now, is the need to make my voice heard.

I've had stories in my head my whole life. As  I began my writing adventure, those stories were kept between me, my computer, and the imaginary people at Hatrack. And that's the way I liked it. Now, I'm trying to open up that imaginary world a bit more, and let in people who will pay me. :)

It's scary pushing against the safe boundary of being silent. No one can criticize me when I don't say anything. But no one can hear me either.

And I'm ready to make my voice heard. Even if it sounds like a twelve year old girl.

So thank you, Mr. Stephen Manes for commenting, (and to google for sending you here). You are welcome back anytime. I'll try to keep the Squeeing to a minimum.

But no promises.


  1. Great post Sheena!

    I'm with you on the fan girl over published writers. It is way awesome that Steven Manes took the time to comment on your beautiful post.

    I'm so glad you sent me that e-mail. It is fun to get my voice out there and be heard after writing for myself for so long. And I love being apart of this group of amazingly talented aspiring writers. Thanks again for the invite. :)

  2. Oh, Sheena, you are awesome. And you MUST come with me to Conduit in May. We'll squee at all the awesome authors together and take the brave step of meeting a few!

  3. That was so exciting! I can't believe Stephen Manes, Bieber Fever of the Sheenaverse, found your blog post. And commented. WOW.

    The therapeutic part of writing has always come from sharing my work. When I write something well, and then other people tell me they had an experience in response to it, I feel like I've broken through a barrier and made a connection outside my head that it's not easy to make. A guy in one of my writing classes said it best once in an essay about why he wrote, when he talked about how when you see green, you know to call it green, but you don't really know if the person you're talking to sees the same thing, or if he sees something different and just also knows to call it green. It made a lot more sense in this guy's essay. But anyway, sometimes in writing you get to have that moment where you know that your green is a real color to someone else, and it's priceless.

    Also, achieving the voice of a 12-year-old girl can be pretty fantastic if you're writing for 12-year-old girls, or people like me who are still 12-ish on the inside. So I wouldn't let that hold you back :D

    This was so encouraging! Great post, Sheena.


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