Friday, April 23, 2010

Sheila Roberts

Sheila Roberts lives in Bremerton, Washington. When she’s not speaking to women’s groups or at conferences, she can be found writing about family, friendship and other things near and dear to women’s hearts. Her new book is Small Change.

Recently, I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m always reading something. I especially love to read cookbooks and food magazines. (Hmmm. Could there be a connection between that and the growing size of my waist?) I also love to read books that give me a laugh, which puts Donald E. Westlake’s caper books at the top of my fun list. But I’m also drawn to books that will teach and inspire me, and I think my recent read, Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life, would fall in that category.

What a fascinating peek into the mind of an entertainment icon and Renaissance man! I found so many interesting tidbits. Steve Martin’s first exposure to the general public was when he was a boy, working at Disneyland hawking tickets. He had a passion for magic tricks, and as a teenager had a magic act. He worked at Knott’s Berry Farm in its early days, performing on a small stage for small audiences. When he started working clubs as a comic his audiences there weren’t so big either. Why did it surprise me to read of his humble beginnings and early struggles? Did I think he was born STEVE MARTIN? I guess I did. What a shock and a comfort to realize that he wasn’t just a wild and crazy guy but a man with dreams who spent years carving success from the granite of everyday struggles.

As I followed this man through those early hard years I was impressed by how he was always learning, always growing, always thinking about how he could improve his act. After a performance he would analyze the act, note what “killed” and what needed to be eliminated. What had he done right? Where had he gone wrong? Time, energy, and dedication were the keys to his success.

That so resonated with me as an author. I think I’m still in my “club years,” working to improve as a writer, always thinking about my books and how I can improve them. How can I bring my writing up a notch? How can I do a better job of catching those little errors before they wind up in print, leaving me with egg on my face? What do I need to do differently this time around? What’s the next step?

I read this book out of curiosity and found inspiration as I vicariously observed Steve Martin’s journey to success and saw how hard this man worked to achieve his dreams. If you’ve got dreams, I think his story might just inspire you, too.
Visit Sheila Roberts' website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue