By: Melanie Lee
The Imaginary Writer
y name is Melanie, and I love writing. But there is always this internal cringe that wrinkles in my belly every time I tell people I am a writer.
Or even worse, author.
In my mind, real writers carry little notebooks everywhere they go, quote Shakespeare verbatim, and hover over a manual typewriter to bang out real novels. Real authors are one level up - they should at least have sold five million copies of their books worldwide, have a Hollywood movie starring A-list actors adapted from one of their works, and do readings in a soothing yet commanding voice.
Because of these grandeur perceptions of what a successful wordsmith should be like, I never gave serious thought about writing to get published. I’d submitted a few short stories and poems here and there, and most of the time, I’d get rejected. I’d shrug my shoulders and think to myself, “Oh well, that was to be expected.”
A few months ago, MPH Publishing published a collection of my short stories as an ebook titled Imaginary Friends: 26 Fables for the Kid in Us. I’d written these kidult* modern day fables during the Blogging A-Z Challenge in April 2013 and had submitted them on a whim. It was a very lovely surprise that a publisher would express interest in my fictional work. After several rounds of tweaking and editing, Imaginary Friends went live on several ebook websites such as Amazon and Kobo.
Then came the time to market the ebook, and that’s where I felt a little lost. I’m not a natural salesperson, and as I did the “self-pimping” with the Facebook page, tweets, blog reviews, and talks, I had this sinking feeling that I wasn’t “qualified” enough and felt like a hack. After all, I had scribbled these zany short stories out in a half-asleep haze in between baby milk feeds with scruffy hair. Meanwhile, in real life, most of my friends didn’t get what I was doing with Imaginary Friends. “Huh, you mean it’s not a real book?” was the default response.
Flailing arms about during a WriteCamp talk
Despite such grappling, Imaginary Friends seems to have done pretty ok so far. In the first week of its release, it peaked at #2 on Kobo’s Top 50 books, was featured as an Editor’s Pick on Booktique, and is a nominee for the 2014 Global Ebook Awards under the Short Stories/Fiction category. The print version of Imaginary Friends will also be released in early 2014.
Number Two baby!
But back to the existential question of whether I qualify as a real writer or author. I’ve decided to term myself an “Imaginary Writer”. This title has nothing to do with the level of literary achievement, but to celebrate how the writing process has brought me to wacky worlds of disputing desserts, anti-social butterflies, and piano-playing felines. At the same time, writing has introduced me to new possibilities in real life I never would have imagined – for one, writing this piece for Banana Writers. Who knows what else writing has to offer? BW
*Kidult: Looks like it’s for kids but really for young-at-heart adults.
Melanie Lee is a work-from-home mum and part-time lecturer from Singapore. She has previously published a short story, Mama’s Boy, with Banana Writers.
Imaginary Friends: 26 Fables for the Kid in Us is available on Kobo for US$4.99 and you can join its Facebook page here. If you’d like to join her Imaginary Writers Club (currently a membership of one), feel free to drop her a tweet at @melanderings.