Monday, February 27, 2012

Angelina's Leg and the Writing Life

The Leg giving out screenplay Oscars
For all the press Angelina's leg got at the Oscars, right down to the fake Twitter account @Angiesleg and one of the winning screenplay writers mocking her pose, the woman has the right idea.

Too often we hide our greatest achievements behind swaths of rich, Gianni-Versace-draped black velvet, instead of sticking them out there for all the world to see. Doggone it, if you have the best legs since Tina Turner, you have a civic duty to display them!

The Leg on the Red Carpet
Like most of America, I was thinking about Angelina's leg today. In my case, it was because I finished revising The Beresfords and found myself wondering what was next, inspiration-wise--pick up the cougar cruise book again? Start a historical fiction?-- When I mentioned these ideas to a friend, she pointed out that, to date, my works were pretty scatter-shot, generically speaking. Two kinda women's fiction-y (Mourning Becomes Cassandra and The Littlest Doubts), followed by a children's picture book (Mia and the Magic Cupcakes), followed by a paranormal romance (Everliving), followed by a kinda coming-of-age/women's fiction-y/Austen update (The Beresfords). In other words, how would I ever build a consistent reader base, if sometimes I was sticking out my leg, other times an elbow, and still other times cleavage? Should I not pick my best feature and thrust it in the public eye continuously?

In my defense, I intended The Beresfords to connect tangentially with MBC and TLD. The main male character in The Beresfords is named Jonathan, simply because the senior pastor in the Cass books is named Jonathan. (I had to go back and look it up.) But by the time I finished the book, highlighting the connection felt forced. It'll probably have to wait for another story.

Which brings me back to The Leg. If I went by sales alone (not counting free Kindle downloads), MBC is probably still the leader, though Everliving isn't far behind. Yet the 19,000(!) downloads of EL on its free days haven't translated to increased sales of MBC and TLD. Increased sales of EL, yes, but not the "different" books. As my friend suspected, fans of the Elbow were not necessarily interested in the Leg.

If I'm in this to make a career (of sorts) out of it, I should clearly stick with the Leg. But if one of the reasons I chose self-publishing is to write whatever I feel like writing, and never mind the financial consequences, then anything goes.

There's a third option: the Prosthetic Leg. If no one wants to look at your real legs or elbows or any assorted body parts, you could take the time to develop a gorgeous prosthesis and learn how to use it gracefully. For a writer, this could be books published under pseudonyms. Write my historical fiction, that is, but publish it as T. Norris Coningsby or Aurora James.

Alas. Too many options. I'll probably solve it my usual way: I'll start writing several things, and whichever story makes it past Chapter Six gets the green light.

In the meantime, I'm happy to report The Beresfords has entered cover-design phase! Yippee!


  1. In my opinion, Angelina is too skinny. Both her arms and her legs are almost emaciated. The difference is the confidence she has that they are great legs. That's the important thing - having confidence that you are the best. Keep following the path you are following and keep writing under your name, Christina Hwang Dudley. You never know which one will hit the big-time.

    1. Thank you, my dear Brooklynite (and I know who you are). You're absolutely right about confidence. Sheer confidence alone turns legs into Legs.