Monday, July 27, 2009

"The Same Kind of Toilet Paper!"

Life is sometimes interesting when one is an LDS author, living in a small town. Picture Mayberry with attitude. That pretty well sums up where I live.

When I married Kennon, I married an entire small town. Bennington should really be renamed: Craneville, since nearly everyone who lives here is a Crane. Half of our ward roster is made up of Cranes. There's an entire page in the local phone book dedicated to my husband's family. That's a bit intimidating. ;)

I've tried to make the best of things, and I've made sure that all of our sons possess pedigree charts, since they are tied into numerous families in Bear Lake (besides the fruitful Crane clan) and dating is sometimes a challenge for them. Since we would like our line to be a thriving tree, not a wreath, marrying outside of the valley is quite possibly the best choice for them.

When I made my first attempts at writing, I only told two very close friends about what I was doing. There were reasons for this.

A) I had no wish to let everyone know each time I received a rejection letter. (Yes, I know, this is a pride thing.)

B) I had no wish to let everyone know each time I received a rejection letter. (Don't make fun.)

Even when one of my manuscripts was finally selected for publication, I still didn't tell anyone. It didn't seem real to me. So I made my two friends (both residents of Bennington---one was a Crane by birth) promise that they wouldn't tell anyone about the future publication of my book. I didn't want word out until I held that book in my hands. Then it would seem real. Then we would tell people.

You can imagine my dismay when I attended a poetry guild meeting shortly after that and one of the members announced to every one there that one of my books was about to be published. (None of them even knew I had been writing books. They only knew about my poor attempts at writing poetry.) I know my jaw hit the floor. My first thought was, "Shelley is soooo dead!" (I knew she was the guilty party, since she was good friends with the woman who made the announcement.)

Instead of congratulations, you could've heard a pin drop. Then one woman (also a Crane by birth) wailed loudly, "SHE STOLE MY DREAM!!!" She said other things that weren't necessarily complimentary, and then the other guild members did their best to calm her down and smooth her feathers. I sat there in shock, before quietly leaving. To my credit, I toughed things out with that same poetry guild for quite a while before throwing in the towel. Good times.

After my first book hit the market and did reasonably well, there were a number of rumors that hit the valley. I was asked interesting questions like, "So . . . when are you going to build your mansion on the hill?" or "Will you be traveling to Europe every year now?" People were of the mistaken notion that I was rolling in the green stuff now that I was a published author. I still remember very well what I spent my first check on: braces for son # 2. It was a good investment, and it took 90% of the money I made that first year. (I'll let you guess where the other 10% went.)

Things would happen like the time Kennon and I met with our insurance agent (also a resident of Mayberry\Bennington) and he tried to talk us into taking out a bigger policy to protect all of our assets. "That way you won't lose the fortune that Cheri is making with her books should someone choose to sue you if you are in a car accident." Ah! You should've seen the shocked look on his face when we informed him that if we had to live on what I made as an author, we would be living below the poverty level. =D True story.

One has to love writing to endure these kind of adventures. And there are wonderful rewards. Like hearing that something you've written has touched someone in a positive way. To me, that's what it's all about. This makes up for those times like the day I was grocery shopping in a local store and a lady cried out, "Cheri Crane buys the same kind of toilet paper that I do!" (Yep, I have no pride now. Sigh . . .)


Anna Buttimore said...

In stark contrast, Cheri, very few of the people I mix with have any clue that I have ever written a book. Most of the Ward members don't know, for example. But then, I live in a very big town where I'm related to exactly no one.

My husband commented that when I receive my royalties cheque for Easterfield we could go out for dinner to celebrate. I replied that it had better be to McDonald's or there would be none of the money left for the bus fare home.

Stephanie Black said...

Too funny, Cheri! Yeah, I think most non-writers assume we make a lot more money than we do.

Kelsi Rose said...

I know how your sons feel. I too live in a small town and have to check my pedigree chart before dating. I haven't even lived here most of my life, I just have lots of ancestors (polygamists).

Gale Sears said...

Wonderful blog, Cheri. Too funny!! I love how people think that just because you're a published writer you make as much money as the "big guys." NOT. I laugh each time I recall a statement from Betsy about how she made enough from her royalty check to buy a major appliance. Now I'll also laugh about the toliet paper.