“I Am a Writer; I Am a Businesswoman” by Cynthia Adina Kirkwood
Imagination creates possibilities.
When I wrote my novel, Turn On, Tune Out, I used my imagination. I became acquainted with a 30-year-old single composer with deep feelings about music, creativity and motherhood. When I market my novel, I also use my imagination. Publicizing my work introduces me to new people, new forums and new ideas. Marketing excites me. It is a part of the transformation I am undergoing as a published author.
In the past, I turned up my nose at business. I would stick with writing, I told myself. J.D. Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye, avoided the press and readers, and he gained fame for it. Though I thought Salinger extreme, I still thought his actions more in tune with the calling of a writer. Also, everyone around me agreed that writing and business were mutually exclusive. Writers were not good at business.
Besides, the business of writing repulsed me. I felt that it was dirty. So, for many years, I left it in the gutter.
When I dug down deeply, I unearthed shame about a family business in which people were treated only as profit. The business is no longer, and the relatives are dead. I cannot ask them for explanations in the hope that I am wrong. Nevertheless, I can finally throw out my negative view of business.
There are as many ways to do business as there are ways to develop oneself.
There is a mean and exploitative way. I am a member of a writers’ Facebook page. When a fellow member posted that she had received an unexpected offer from a traditional publisher, I clicked “Like” and congratulated her in a comment. Her post elicited other positive responses but, soon, also cautionary ones. It turns out that this “traditional” publisher is more akin to a vanity press and charges a hefty “contributory fee.” It would have been fine if the press had been clear about its role. Years ago before Internet became a fact of life, I met a historical writer who gushed about her first vanity published book, which she planned to give to her family. But the publisher mentioned on Facebook purposely misled and emotionally manipulated the writer, raising her hopes and hurting her pride.
I aim to do the business of writing in an uplifting way. I have been touched by the generosity of writers as they share their experiences and knowledge with me. I, in turn, am doing the same. As one hand pulls me up, I pull up another. As a result, I am finding myself surrounded by good-hearted people, and we are all becoming more successful. In my novel, Turn On, Tune Out, composer Angelica Morgan recalls her mother’s publication track record:
“After twelve years, one of her novels was published. She told me that she felt vindicated. Vindicated and freed because her definition of success had changed. She had cut the cord with the publishing industry which had grown into a monolith of sameness.
“Mommy began publishing herself against the advice of publishing houses, which called self-publishing the kiss of death. . . Mommy’s work sold rather well. She developed a following among fellow artists. Her writing nurtured them, their work nurtured her. For Mommy, that was success. Not only that, it made her happy. She believed that, in time, the market would broaden again.”
Imagination makes things happen.
It seems that I have inherited some business acumen from my family, after all.
Who should read Turn On, Tune Out by Cynthia Adina Kirkwood
If you find your life bombarded by information and noise, read about this musician’s challenge to quiet hers.
In Turn On, Tune Out, a British composer turns outlaw in Los Angeles. She flouts a computer law that cripples creativity. In L.A., she finds an audience, love, and a passion to stop the insidious law from taking hold in Britain. In the near future of California, artists, who steal time off-line, are considered suspect, criminal and dangerous.
Angelica’s friend, Rosetta, an outspoken painter, cautions the musician about the law that requires four hours of daily screen-watching. However, Angelica dismisses the warning. . . .
About the Author
Cynthia Adina Kirkwood was born and raised in New York City, where her parents emigrated from Belize in Central America. She received a bachelor’s degree in Religion from Williams College in the Berkshires. Cynthia also studied a year abroad at the American University in Cairo. Later, she received a master’s degree in International Economics, Comparative Politics and African Studies from the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. At the University of California at Berkeley, she earned a Certificate of Journalism Education from the Summer Program for Minority Journalists. Cynthia worked at newspapers in the east, west, north and south of the United States. In 1994, she left the San Francisco Chronicle for Sicily and has been living in Europe since then.
In 2012, Cynthia and her son left a sedentary life in Cornwall, England, for a farming one in the heart of Portugal. She has 4 acres of terraced land with olive trees, grapevines, and fruit trees. New York – any city – seems far away from her in time and space. Yet, Cynthia is still the child belly-laughing at “I Love Lucy,” reading books within arm’s reach from the Astoria Public Library, and studying ballet and tap in Manhattan.
She is still a girl from “the projects,” a first-generation American, giving voice to those without one.
About the Guest Post
Writing is truth . . . for wherever we happen to be in this life. The more we write, the more we learn about ourselves. I am grateful to Romila for asking me to write this guest blog because while writing it, I recognized, named and exorcised a truth of mine.
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