What people are saying about Stern Literary Consulting:
"Ellen Sue Stern's skills brought my book proposal to a whole new level. Several editors are seriously considering my proposal." -Amy S., Phoenix
"As a writing coach, Ms. Stern helped me discover my true message. My writing has never been more focused and clear." -Jonathan D., Washington, D.C.
"Attending Ellen Sue Stern's writing retreat has given me a huge amount of confidence in my ability to move forward as a writer."-Cheryl V., Dallas
"I've been working on a book idea for twelve years. With Ellen Sue Stern's help, I'm finally ready to put it out into the world." -Doug J. Boston
luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to a minister on my
flight back from D.C. last week. He told me about his congregation, I told
him about my books. Normally, he said, he doesn't talk on airplanes because
once people know what he does for a living, they bare their souls and beg
forgiveness, along with a guarantee of a front row seat in heaven in the
unlikely circumstance of a crash. He sheepishly admitted that his mile high
ministry had become so tiresome that now, if anyone asked about his career,
he’d mumble something about oral sugery and go back to reading his paper.
I totally get it. I almost never talk about my books to strangers on
airplanes-or for that matter, on buses, elevators, or crowded supermarket
lines, although post 911, I offer the customary smile just in case. Say
the word “author” and six out of seven people launch into a passionate
monologue on their groundbreaking idea: “Everyone says my life is so
fascinating, it would make a great book (or movie). "Can you believe it!?!
I’ve been writing in a journal for the past fifteen years and suddenly you
show up!" Or, “I’ve been meaning to revise the dissertation I wrote in
graduate school, if I can just remember what box I stored it in the attic!”
These revelations send me into a slight panic attack. Held hostage, so
to speak, a nod, smile, and “that’s interesting,” leads to business cards,
e-mail adresses, and unsolicited word attachments before I've even had a
chance to unpack and boot up the computer. Any inking of encouragement, as
in: “"Good idea!” or “You should get that down on paper" is an engraved
invitation to an in-depth discussion on book proposals, agenting, publicity,
and, of course, everyone's' favorite--advances and royalties.
So I ask for a blanket and pillow, plug in my headphones and pretend to
sleep. Not because I hate talking books, not even because of the sheer statistical unlikelyhood of a random encounter with an airplane seatmate who just so happens to be on the verge of publishing The Great American Novel, which, by more sheer luck, I happen to have the privilege of helping midwife and selling for a gbziliion dollars.
The real reason I don't mention the A word has to do with
heartbreak--the genuine frustration I feel listening to smart, talented
people talk about the book they want to write someday, knowing full well
that day will never come. Anger that the world we live in forces even the
most committed artists to spend their creative energy paying off their
credit cards. And sadness that the considerable demands of my own life
require that to do what I love--helping aspiring writers nurture the seeds
of creativity that seek illumination in order to bloom--involves a monetary
exchange when I'd give anything to make this part of my own personal
ministry. Because between the cowards, the showoffs, the procrastinators
and the half-dozen who really might have a book in them if they quit their
job or went on a writing retreat or rearranged their office or won the
lottery, there are those rare individuals who, not only will write a book,
but will actually see it in print!
Why? Because they have something to say. Because they NEED to say it.
Most importantly, because THEY LOVE WORDS!! which, to me, is what makes
writers write-and which is why, every once in a while, I talk to people on
airplanes. You never know. My next flight is Northwest 264, October 3rd,
3:01 departure, Minneapolis to La Guardia.