Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Heart Amy Bloom

by Susan McBride

Amy Bloom is an award-winning novelist and short story writer (among other things). Do I know her? No, I’ve never had the pleasure. Have I read her work? Sadly, I can’t say that I have as of yet, although I’ve added her novel, Away, to my “must get” list.

Regardless, I wanna be like Amy and here’s why.

A recent Amazon ad showed a couple relaxing on the beach with Kindles in hand. The camera focused on the woman’s screen, and it revealed the page of a book. Most of us couldn’t even see what it said, but some clever person figured out that it was from Amy Bloom’s short story collection, Where the God of Love Hangs Out.

Once that became known, the media descended. When asked about her “appearance” in a Kindle TV ad, she remarked, “I feel very grateful for whoever it was who said, ‘Hey, how about a page from an Amy Bloom story.’”

What she said next in that same interview is what made me decide, “Ms. Bloom, you rock.” In response to being asked if the Kindle brouhaha would increase sales of her book, she answered:

"You never know. It probably won't do me any harm. On the other hand, the other way to look at it is who cares? I've done my job as a writer. I've written the best work I know how. And I'm appreciative of the people who read it and care about the work—and that's pretty much the end of that. Anything else that happens is sometimes nice, and sometimes not so nice, but not really directly relevant."

Now do you see why I heart her?

I want to be that writer who doesn’t worry about promotion, Twitter, Facebook, and getting on Oprah. (Is anyone else relieved it’s her last season? Maybe then well-intentioned but clueless family members will stop asking me, “When is Oprah having you on?”).

I crave indifference to both good reviews and bad and the ability to sincerely and confidently state, “I wrote the best damned book I could. What happens next is up to God/Fate, Readers/Booksellers, and/or The Easter Bunny."

I yearn to sigh happily when I’ve typed “The End” (okay, I don’t really ever type “The End,” but it sounds better), close that chapter of my writing life, and move on to the next deadline without worrying about a million tiny things, like, will my mother-in-law enjoy it, will it get reviewed by someone who likes women’s fiction and not by a devoted fan of Amish Vampire YA Dystopian Cozies, and will people judge it by the words inside instead of by its cover? (Speaking of covers, you already heard me whine about cover issues with The Cougar Club so I’m hoping to avoid the same fate with Little Black Dress, although I'm not holding my breath and my cover fairy seems to be on an extended vacation.  Damn her.)

When I sit down at my keyboard to tell a story, it is truly a passion. It isn’t always easy, but it’s what I love. So much is involved with being a published author these days, way beyond the storytelling. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m in this for the words and for the high I get when a tale that’s existed only in my head for months and months is suddenly out there for anyone to read (even folks unrelated to me who buy copies from bookstores in places I’ve never been).
I will turn in Little Black Dress tomorrow and, when I do, like Amy Bloom, I'll be thinking, "I’ve truly done the best job that I can."

And I hope that it’s enough.

Susan McBride is looking forward to sleeping in, watching mindless TV, and eating plenty of chocolate while recovering from deadline-itis. LITTLE BLACK DRESS, her tale of two sisters, a daughter, and a magical little black dress that changes all of their lives, has been moved up in the schedule and will be available from HarperCollins/Avon in mid-May of 2011.  Visit her at

P.S.  Happy Birthday to Ellen Meister!!!


  1. Susan, this was a *wonderful* post, and you've got me hearting Amy Bloom, too.

    I seem to remember there being a lesson (Zen??) that if you can drink something either bitter or sweet, accepting both equally without a change in expression, it represents the point where you're dealing peacefully with life. (Or something kind of like that. ;) I think of this with the publishing world -- especially with reviews! -- all the time. No matter what comes our way, if we've done our job, we need to just accept the results in peace. Good reviews, bad's all the same.

    Congrats on turning in your book tomorrow!!! Can't wait to read it in May. And happy b-day to Ellen, too!

  2. Bloom's words are inspiring (and she's a very talented writer). But I do think it's easier to say such things when you've already reached that place where the literati love you *and* you're a bestselling author.

    Congrats on finishing LITTLE BLACK DRESS! I wish all Zen-like feelings for you from here on out, and tremendous success for the book. :-)

  3. Marilyn! 2:19 a.m.! Girl, do you ever sleep??? Oh, yes, I totally need to be more Zen, and I keep trying. That's a great way to think about it, though, with the good balancing out the bad (although, hopefully, with a little more good than bad!). I remember when I went through my boobal trauma, I said, "I am going to be more Zen when I'm well and not worry about anything I can't control." Ha! I do think some of us are born Type A's and the best we can do is strive to be a Type A-minus. Hey, hugs to you! And thanks re. tomorrow's deadline! It feels so good to be almost done!

    Therese, I think you're right! And thank you for the good wishes! Much appreciated especially when I'm feeling so drained by this book and really glad I will make tomorrow's deadline (by the skin of my teeth!). :-)

  4. I like some promotion duties like interviews and speaking gigs and others not so much (like sitting in an empty bookstore.)

    I'd probably promote even if I had a name like Amy Bloom though:) That's the control freak in me.

  5. I try as much as possible to, as I like to say, "write through the noise." That said, when you make your living as a writer, it's tough to completely ignore all of it!

  6. I love this philosophy . . . now, if only I could also live it. Ah well. And I also love that you'll be turning in your MS tomorrow. Yay you! And yay for that meaning we'll be bale to get together for lunch again soon.

    With everything, I try to enjoy the journey . . .

  7. Mornin', All!

    Gr8 post, Susan! Really got me thinking 'bout how we all balance being a writer with the business of being a writer.

    For me, it truly is all about remembering then celebrating - every day when I get my a$$ in my chair to write the day's new pages - "why I luuuvvv this job of being a writer"!!!

    It is the process of writing and connecting with my muses - aka my Creative Divas - that not only gets my butt in my chair but keeps it there 'til that day's The End and the next one after that and so on.

    This is the heart behind my MUSE THERAPY book for writers. I wanted to give all of us something to hang onto on the days we're not sure - 'cause of all the business crap - that we're really in our chairs for the long-haul. And not just in our chairs but enjoying the ride as we fly around on our magical brooms and get those words onto our pages.

    Sexy Sassy Smart MUSE THERAPY & Defying Gravity Wishes --- D. D. Scott

  8. Karin, I love doing some of the promotion, too, especially getting out there to meet people. It's a great change from the solitary act of writing. Yeah, empty bookstores are never fun! I am guessing Amy Bloom might not have to deal with that situation very often. ;-) Are all writers control freaks? I guess we must be, huh, since we like to play God and create whole worlds that didn't exist!

    Lauren, I love "write through the noise!" That's it exactly. Sometimes it's so hard to do when you just want some peace and quiet.

    Judy, maybe we can practice being Zen at lunch soon! And you know how glad I am to be turning in this book. It has consumed me. You are smart to try to enjoy the journey. I feel like I'm much better at doing that now than I could 10 years ago (or even five). We have to tell ourselves to slow down now and then, and take in everything. There's so much to celebrate, always, even if we're not sure what that is at any given moment.

    D.D., muse therapy, huh? Sounds very cool to me! I love thinking of the writing process as magic. It is a really special thing we do! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Thanks so much for the birthday wishes, Susan! And also for this great post.

    For the record, I think Amy Bloom is an astounding writer, but I could never hope to emulate her attitude. I just don't possess that DNA.

    I often tell myself my drive is financial--I have three kids and a heavy burden, after all. But the truth is that I think I'd be just as ambitious if I were independently wealthy. Just not as nervous about it, perhaps.

    And by the way, I think Ms. Susan McBride rocks!

  10. Ellen!!! Have an awesome birthday and an astounding year ahead! My crystal ball tells me you're going to have an amazing 2011! :-) Oh, and I'm not sure I'll ever be Amy Bloom either, attitude-wise. My mom reminds me that I've been an overachiever and worrywart since birth. So it's in my DNA, too! Aw, and thanks! I'm going to show that to my husband tonight and say, "See what Ellen Meister thinks, and she's never even heard me sing Def Leppard off-key." You are sweet.

  11. Great post Susan and a wonderful reminder that if we wrote from the heart and gave it our all, we owe it to ourselves to enjoy the praise and ignore the criticism. Easier said than done, of course, but it's a worthy pursuit. Good luck with Little Black Dress and hope to hear that readers sing its praises.

  12. You are so right that it's easier said than done, Saralee! But we sure try, don't we? And maybe, one day, it'll stick! Thanks so much re. LBD. I'm crossing fingers and toes!

  13. I relate to every word you wrote, Susan! (I do actually type The End at the end, though. It was the proudest moment of my life when I wrote my first novel and typed those words, back when I had no idea if it would sell and was blissfully ignorant of everything an author goes through.

    Little Black Dress sounds so good! Magical dress! I can't wait.

  14. Hey, Melissa! I like the idea of typing "The End" when a story is done. For some reason, I type hash marks (###), at least I think that's what they're called! I don't remember why, maybe a side effect of J-School? But that was so long ago I can't remember exactly! Yeah, there's something to be said for blissful ignorance. :-) Thanks re. LBD. I have to tell you, I've been reading THE LOVE GODDESS' COOKING SCHOOL this past week (even though I was saving it for a treat when I'd finished). I am loving the "magic" sprinkled throughout it! And everything Holly cooks makes me hungry! Wish I could sign up for one of her classes. Great job, Girlfriend!