I cheerfully admit to being the world’s biggest klutz. I often stumble over big, jagged patches of air in my path. In junior high school, I was gently asked to step away from cheerleading tryouts and never return (it’s probably for the best; I played field hockey instead and menaced opponents with my uncoordinated wielding of the stick). And if you saw me dancing, you’d run away screaming, “My eyes! My eyes! I’m blind!”
I think it’s good I learned early on in life that it’s not the end of the world when you fall. Because the path to publishing is full of stumbles and near-misses, scrapes and pratfalls. And once you trip across the threshold into the actual world of publishing? Well, then it’s even easier to take a tumble – only now you’re on a bigger stage.
So far, publishing has treated me very kindly. But I know there will be, um, less-than-glowing reviews in my future, because that happens to everyone, and I hope I can be as much of a good sport about it as Brad Meltzer was in this hilarious video.
Before writing The Opposite of Me, I used to work as a newspaper and magazine reporter, and I also encountered my share of bruises then. I was sumo-bumped off a U.S. Senate subway car by a particularly rotund politician who didn’t want to answer my questions. The chief of staff to a U.S. congresswoman unsuccessfully sued me after I exposed the fact that she set up a scholarship fund for poor kids in Detroit – then used the money to buy herself fur coats and jewelry. And an octogenarian member of the Senate squeezed me in a most unprofessional way. What I learned from it all – and what I remind myself as I venture into this new, unfamiliar twist of my career – is to keep my head up, even as I’m tumbling to the ground.
When I was a kid, I did gymnastics. I vividly remember trying to learn a cartwheel on a balance beam. Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest extracurricular choice for a girl like me who was all bony elbows and knees and whose only encounter with grace came when someone remembered to say it at dinner. I must’ve done a thousand cartwheels one summer, falling onto the floor and gathering yet another purple and yellow bruise for my collection. Then, on roughly try number 1001, I did it. A perfect cartwheel. No one was around to see, but that didn’t matter. Because I knew.
Here’s what I’ve learned: Don’t be too scared of falling. Get up and brush yourself off, then try again. Oh – and the best tip of all is the one I didn’t learn until I was an adult: A couple glasses of wine and a little chocolate go a long way toward helping you heal, inside and out.