I Hate Decisions: I Need Help Picking an Author Headshot


I am trying to decide on my new profile picture for my book jacket.  I am seriously thinking about self-publishing and I need to move forward from the whole mine field of thinking an agent is going to be the most important thing for me to get published.  The whole thought of I. Need. An. Agent. To. Validate. My Skills. As. A. Writer.  I am a writer, aren’t I?  This is where you can validate me.  Ha Ha.

Truth be told, I have contacted the agent that is reading my motherhood memoir and I have not heard back from he/she.   Granted, a hurricane is headed towards NYC and my polite check-in via email is the least of his/her concerns, but I would like to know where I stand.  Is it great? Is it bad? Is it marketable? Better yet, is it sell-able?  Does he/she love it ? Does he/she hate it?

I am a curious creature.  I will admit I crave validation.  I was a stand-out athlete in high school and I played soccer in college (Division I — do you hear the horns tooting?)  It strikes me as funny and a little pathetic now how I love validation.  But nothing holds a candle to how I feel when I just do it and write.  It feels good to get all those feelings and thoughts down on paper –or rather squeezed out in a sentence which turns into a paragraph which turns into a page and then it is like skating on a frozen lake you know every corner of…just magic. Let the blade slice into the ice and off you go.

One of my favorite quotes is from guess wh0 — yes, Anne Lamott.

“The great writers keep writing about the cold dark place within, the water under a frozen lake or the secluded, camouflaged hole. The light they shine on this hole, this pit, helps us cut away or step around the brush and brambles; then we can dance around the rim of the abyss, holler into it, measure it, throw rocks in it, and still not fall in. It can no longer swallow us up. And we can get on with things.”

Well, that is what my book is about — the water under the frozen lake of motherhood.  There are some deep cold pockets in that water, just as there are some beautiful snowy, sugar white sparkly — stop you dead in your tracks kind of awe and wonder.  Motherhood, she is one complex braided rope –somedays there are rope burns and somedays this very rope saves me.

I have had time to process how I feel about this over the weekend, as I have not had a response.  The truth is I have to be prepared to put my book out there with or without an agent. I am apprehensive about publishing this book because it is a creative nonfiction account of my personal feelings about motherhood.  There are no quirky characters to hide behind –just this quirky character and my beautiful son (whom I do worry about reading this book later). I did not have an easy go with motherhood.  I have my own issues (which will be discussed in another memoir which I am working on) but I also had to contend with infertility, postpartum depression, intrusive thoughts, nipple scabs, bleeding nipples, anxiety and among other things — the inability to stop farting.  What the heck is up with that? (It should be noted this is under control now)

“There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anyway, I detailed my journey as I was taking an independent study course I designed in graduate school, in which my primary focus was to intellectually study my emotions and feelings and write about it.  As most of you know, I don’t like to sugar coat things. So this memoir is one big diaper bag full of angst, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, wonder, depression, internal judgement, self-doubt, confidence, miracles,  happiness, joy, amazement, and a whole bunch of diapers, stuffed animals, other mothers, and just about anything that happened to pop up in my feeling mom jack-in-the-box that day.  One thing I discovered as I was writing this memoir was that I was practicing attachment parenting and I didn’t even realize it.  The theme of this memoir is how attachment parenting helped me find my way and the security that I was doing it right.

Here is a piece I recently wrote for APtly Said — Attachment Parenting International’s blog, which I am a regular contributor to.  This piece also talks about my independent study course, Motherhood: The New Frontier.

So, without further ado — can you help me pick a photo to slap on the back of my book?  I’d like to at least look my best as I prepare to get slaughtered by the judgmental moms out there.  It’s brutal in Momville somedays.  I do find that most moms when you have them cornered and there is good coffee on hand, will freely admit to how difficult it is to be a mom.  The juxtaposition of feelings.  The loss of identity.  The loneliness. The boredom. The joy. The stress. The calm. The pain. The smiles. The backbreaking daily labor.  The lulls in-between. The long braided rope, complex and multi-layered.

So I will label the photos I had taken by a professional photographer and if you are willing, write a quick comment on your favorite.  I hate decisions. I will admit the best decision I ever made was to be a mother.

Photo #1

I really like #1.

“Mother’s love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved.” -Erich Fromm

Photo #2

“Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.” -James Joyce

I like this photo because my antique typewriters are showing.  I love those babies of mine.  If they weren’t so heavy, I would put them in a sling and baby-wear them around town.  Just kidding, but kind of serious.

Photo #3

“With what price we pay for the glory of motherhood.” -Isadora Duncan

Photo #4

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”  -Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty

Photo #5

“Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes

In 100 Years, I Want to Know I Gave 100%


Well folks, I’ve reached 100 likes on my blog posts.  Don’t I feel special!

Italicized writing from this website: Within My Power – The Power of One Man Print E-mail

The following was written by Forest E. Witcraft (1894 – 1967), a scholar, teacher, and Boy Scout administrator and first published in the October 1950 issue of Scouting magazine.

Forest E. WitcraftI am not a Very Important Man, as importance is commonly rated. I do not have great wealth, control a big business, or occupy a position of great honor or authority.

Yet I may someday mould destiny. For it is within my power to become the most important man in the world in the life of a boy. And every boy is a potential atom bomb in human history.

A humble citizen like myself might have been the Scoutmaster of a Troop in which an undersized unhappy Austrian lad by the name of Adolph might have found a joyous boyhood, full of the ideals of brotherhood, goodwill, and kindness. And the world would have been different.

A humble citizen like myself might have been the organizer of a Scout Troop in which a Russian boy called Joe might have learned the lessons of democratic cooperation.

These men would never have known that they had averted world tragedy, yet actually they would have been among the most important men who ever lived.

All about me are boys. They are the makers of history, the builders of tomorrow. If I can have some part in guiding them up the trails of Scouting, on to the high road of noble character and constructive citizenship, I may prove to be the most important man in their lives, the most important man in my community.

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different, because I was important in the life of a boy.

***

I find this interesting that when you search for this poem, some sites recognize it as anonymous.

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.

  – Anonymous

The above text quote is from this website.

You would think they would credit the author, Forest Whitcraft.  Someone changed the last word from “boy” to “child” and now Forest Whitcraft loses credit for profound statement.  He seems like the type that wouldn’t care too much about that.  Well me, I am not that evolved.  I work hard as an artist (photographer and writer) and I want credit for my work. I also like validation.  You’ll have to buy my memoir to find out about the deep seeded reason for that! But I think everyone loves validation.

I have been using Pinterest and I am still so new to the site, that I am not sure how I feel about it.  I worked really hard to upload watermarked images, but I am still finding people using my photos that do not have the watermark on them.  I am reporting people to Pinterest that do that.  I feel bad about it though, like “Oh, how can I be your friend still, even though you are stealing my photos and not crediting me?”  Like, I ‘ll lose a precious fan or potential customer.  News flash — if people steal the photos and don’t credit me, it is safe to say, they are not going to buy a photo. Dah! I am also looking out for other photographers.

I had a mini discussion with a photographer about photo piracy on Twitter, when he posted that this photo had been pirated. This is what he said,

@memomuse1 Sorry I didn’t get back sooner but I once heard this: once you put a photo on the web you no longer control it. You can always control how put it there but once it’s up assume it can and will be taken.

@memomuse1 I do post on Flickr & on my site & a few other places that people can see my stuff. I don’t watermark anymore & just accept fate.

@memomuse1 Not a big fan of watermarks because they detract from the pic. Flickr has some protection at least. So I roll mostly w/Flickr
 
@PositivePauly You are an artist Paul and I agree with you on watermarks, but I guess it is part of the dealio these days as a photographer
 
@memomuse1 I do post on Flickr & on my site & a few other places that people can see my stuff. I don’t watermark anymore & just accept fate.

Why does this have to be the case?  Should we just give into plagiarism and photo piracy?  I have come to the conclusion, I will make a living as a teacher, educator, and hopefully someday, as a writer.  Now, as a stay-at-home mom, I am not bringing in an income.  I do have assignments that pay as a freelance writer and photographer, but as far as my art goes, I do it because I love it.  An old friend of mine, asked me recently, “Are you making money with your art?”  I responded, “Well, it depends on what you define as making money.”  This bothered me, mostly because, it reinforced the fact I am not making money.  But that is not my incentive.  I guess what fuels me most is when someone appreciates the art in a photo or one of my blog posts moves someone enough to take extra time to comment on my blog.

I don’t really have a plan yet on what I am exactly trying to do.  Yes, it would nice if I sold some photos at my art online gallery at Artflakes.com and yes, it would super awesome to go viral on Pinterest as the awesome cowboy and rodeo photographer lady. But the truth is, I am slowly building a platform, of real people (like you who actually read my blog) who actually like my blog because they really do like it.  I have been caught up in forcing all my work out there that is even annoys me how I am marketing myself.  Little known secret — I was an elementary and special education major in college and I have a Master’s in English (Creative Writing), so I have no idea what I am doing on the business/marketing side.  I just am feeling the intensity of the NOW of the internet and social media, especially along the lines of platform.  But I have so much to learn still.  My good friend sent me this article, which might be of help to you if you are trying to build a platform, as well.

I feel the internet makes me fall into old mind traps of how I will get discovered instantly and then I can write thank you notes to all my people. Ha.  It’s so funny, sometimes I really think I have nailed it.  Like this attempt I had last night to channel Don Draper and write copy on Pinterest to get some traffic to my Talenthouse portfolio, ultimately to get more supporters to vote for my photo of Chris LeDoux.  Ha.  I guess nobody wants my ugly mug sitting on their pretty Pinterest boards (I would have uploaded an image of an attractive cowboy, cowgirl, or horse if I could have, but Pinterest only found the image of me sitting in a barn with my typewriter on my lap).

Yep, that's Memomuse, with her typewriter and a whole lot of hay! Photo by Sara Turner http://www.sturnerphotos.com

This was my advertising copy:

There’s a whole barn full of cowboys here in my portfolio at Talenthouse (click on my photo). And they all tell a story — hop in the truck and let’s take a ride to Wyoming to see the largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration in the United States! Hell yeah, hop in and let’s put some gravel in our travels.

×Thumbnail of Megan OteriMegan Oteri
Photos of Willie Nelson, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Chris LeDoux, JB Mauney, Clint Craig, Brian Canter, cowboys, cowgirls, and broncs and bulls, and scenic Wyoming. Black and white photos with an artistic perspective. I’d love to get your feedback, so be sure to leave a comment if you have time. Thanks for stopping by my photo ranch!So, there you have it — I am really good at photography, writing, and teaching.  Advertising and marketing — well, I think Don Draper would take pleasure in firing me.I changed the Pinterest photo and copy (my husband helped me rewrite it).  He has more sense than me.It now reads: There’s a whole lot of cowboys here at my ranch. Visit them at my portfolio at Talenthouse (click on photo). And they all tell a story — hop in the truck and let’s kick up some dust and take a ride to Wyoming to see the largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration in the United States! Let’s go to the Daddy of em’ All!And I put this photo in instead of my ugly mug!

FYI:  To make the © symbol: Press the Alt key and “0169” at the same time.  My husband helped me with that.  I do an inner “high-five” via my left brain every time I execute that simple, but at one time, completely foreign and unreachable to my right brain mind.

Photo by my Awesome husband (my #1 cowboy) © Awesome husband All Rights Reserved
Memomuse's hand - high fiving all you right brains (and left brains and whole brains)

I actually met with a literary agent at the 2011 South Carolina Writer’s Workshop, and after two rejections of my gift book, The Original Journal (see tab above if you are not familiar with that project), I decided the third pitch needed to be something else, or my ego would literally strangle me with its wounded limbs.  So, I pitched my memoir.  The agent put her business card on the table.  I had no idea what that meant, having suffered (cue ego sad music) two rejections from other agents.

She said, “My next appointment has cancelled, so do you have questions about the publishing business and process?”

I searched my mind and had one thing on my mind, “How did my pitch go?”

She smiled, she is from the Mid-West, and so down to earth and said, “I gave you my card.”

I was like, “Yeah, OK, what does that mean?”

She laughed kindly and looked me dead in the eye (this time I wasn’t about to cry like after the rejection from the last two agents), and said, “I want to see the first 30 pages.”

I think I could have hugged her.  I really wanted to.  I was on top of the world.

I have several drafts, and as Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird, I certainly have a shitty first draft.  And a shitty second draft.  I am working on the second two chapters. I finished the first chapter.

So I have a tangible lead — but I get caught up in the get-discovered-via-the-all-mighty-internet scheme very easily. I know it happens — Julie and Julia, the lady who makes stuffed animals from children’s illustrations, and Justin Bieber.  Granted I don’t have a YouTube channel and I don’t write about food (hell, I hardly cook) and I couldn’t sew a button on a jacket to save my life.  I write. I take photographs. I am memomuse.  That should be enough.  But I really do want to get discovered.  Fast. Like now.  But I am doing what I do and eventually it will take where I’m supposed to go.

“Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.”
― Natalie Goldberg

And I am taking baby steps to figure out the rest, or sometimes I jump into the internet pool and Cannonball!  Sorry if I have splashed you while you were relaxing and sunbathing quietly.  I just have no idea what I am doing.

In 100 years, I want to know I gave it 100%.

Have a great weekend.  Voting starts for the photo of Chris LeDoux on Talenthouse on Monday.  I will put a link in the Monday Museletter.  I will also be posting a story about meeting Chris LeDoux at Cheyenne Frontier Days.  Those sparkly Wyoming cowboy eyes sure can make a cowgirl blush!