This past fall a small group of writer friends and I attended the annual Moonlight & Magnolias conference in Atlanta. There were novels given away for free, of course, but since one can never have too many books, I bought a few more.
One that I’m just now reading is “The Accidental Bestseller” by Wendy Wax. It’s about four women who meet at their first writers’ conference. Ten years later they’re still friends and are all published. That was enough to make me buy the book right there: I was with friends at a writers’ conference, holding a book about women who become friends at a writers’ conference. That it would be a fun read was a no-brainer.
The main POV character suffers one crisis after another, to the point she’s barely able to function. The deadline for her next book is steadily getting closer, though, so the other three help by collaborating on the new novel – which happens to be about four women who meet at a writers’ conference, become friends and eventually all become published. They split the book into quarters so each woman can write one of the POVs. Their assumption is that the book will be pitched over the fence to meet the deadline, never to be seen again. I’m not finished, but the premise is that the new book becomes a hit and exposes the four of them to all sorts of scrutiny, at which point their lives as well as their friendship begin to unravel.
Wax makes you feel like a fly on the wall, reading about an editor at a major New York publishing house whose mood swings can determine whether a writer succeeds or tanks. And about the agents stuck in the middle, trying to make both the editors and the writers happy. But the biggest eye-opener has been what happens to a writer after she has managed – against all odds – to become published. For my friends and I, that’s the Realm Behind the Curtain. None of us are published, and it’s our only goal. We have no concrete plans for what might happen afterward because we haven’t dared to think that far ahead. Some of us might even say we’d be jinxing ourselves.
All four of the women in Wax’s book have their struggles with writing, just like we do, but have the added stresses of meeting new deadlines and dealing with a whole host of other issues. It’s almost enough to give a writer pause. Will it be worth it in the end, or will we wish we had heeded the warnings? Do we really want to be published?
Oh, who am I kidding? Of COURSE we do. We’re just like kids who won’t listen to stories of their parents’ mistakes. We want to learn those lessons ourselves. We can keep our fingers crossed and hope the bad stuff won’t happen to us.
Thanks, Wendy, for the peek behind the curtain.