Wendy recently posted advice about how a writer needs to stay fit to survive [Survival of the Fittest]. Well, I recently learned that a writer also needs to get dressed.
I quit my day job in 2003, and have been writing blissfully at home ever since. It would be inaccurate to say I work in my pajamas – the nightgowns I wear to bed are much nicer than my writing clothes, which consist mostly of black fleece leggings and old shirts. Typically, I don these clothes in the dark, with the full intention of changing into something more respectable – like clean blue jeans and a sweater – after daybreak, especially if I have errands in the local village, and imperatively if I have appointments downtown.
But it’s no secret I don’t really like to leave home, and I often procrastinate until I’m too late to change. I’ve been known to apply lipstick while racing down the state highway, hoping that the novelty of make-up will deflect attention from my baggy knees.
I do have a few good outfits, which I wear when I teach and give book talks. Since I rarely see the same students or audience twice, I’ve made do with one dress and one suit, with different accessories for variety. And on the rare date night, I do dress up – in my black jeans. These constitute my “good clothes” – the clothes I’m not supposed to wear in the garden, or tend the chickens in. But this is life in the country, and mud happens.
The few nice things I don’t buy from a catalog, I find at the thrift store. I’ve bragged to my friends in the well-heeled professions that my whole wardrobe costs less than their weekly dry-cleaning bills. Who needs business attire to walk to the post office to mail off submissions or collect rejections?
The answer is: any writer who is writing, revising, rewriting and submitting to contests, to journals, to agents or publishers. These writers need something to wear for that moment that seems impossible: acceptance.
That moment happened to me last week, when I learned that Into the Wilderness won the IPPY Gold Medal for Regional Fiction – North East. I enjoyed successive moments of disbelief and delight as I read and reread the citation. And then I focused on the fine print: “New York City” and “business casual attire.” That’s when terror struck: What was I going to wear?
Deborah Lee Luskin’s Into the Wilderness won the Gold Medal for Regional Fiction in the North East, which includes New York and New England. The Independent Publisher Book Awards, begun in 1996, is the largest independent book contest in the world, intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles produced each year. This year, there were nearly four thousand submissions from 46 states and 8 countries; 346 prizes were awarded.