Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of talking to newly-minted National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson, about her prize-winning memoir, BROWN GIRL DREAMING. Along with being an amazing writer, Woodson is a loving partner and parent. And she said something during our chat that stuck with me:
“This is the moment, this is the now, and we don’t get this back. With writing, it’s so much what I love doing and such a big part of me, but it’ll always be there. I have to figure out what the priorities are. So some days the house doesn’t get vacuumed and there’s dog fur all over. Some days the windows get washed because I’m procrastinating. Some days the kids might have rice cakes and peanut butter for lunch instead of bread because I forgot to go shopping. It is what it is, and we survive it. I just feel so lucky to have all the stuff that I love surrounding me right now, my writing, my partner, my kids. So given that, the rest is gravy.”
All evidence points to this: even for the happiest, most bestselling, critically-lauded of authors, publishing can be a rough ride. As Debs, we’re still relatively sheltered, enjoying the highs of the shiny agent, the book deal, the debut. I’m sure there are choppy waters headed my way — rough edits (book two, here we come!), inexplicable one-star reviews, criticisms that, though harsh, ring true. Books that fall through and books that don’t sell through and who knows what else lies in wait. But when I face that, I’ll have to hold fast to what Jackie said. That soon, I’ll have a book out there in the world, sitting on a shelf where anyone can pick it up and read it. And maybe love it. Or maybe hate it. That’s amazing.
But more importantly? As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, I’ll be cozy with my two little ones, my husband — who totally gets and shares my passion for writing and books — and my family. My parents will be in India (and we all did Masala Turkey at their house on Saturday), so I’ll be at my sister’s in the city, celebrating over slices of pizza. But we’ll all be together, and that far outweighs any review, good or bad.
And in the wake of the verdict that shook the nation, we have to remember to hold our loved ones tight and be grateful for them. To be grateful for the fact that we can come together and celebrate. And yes, I’ll be toting my first ARCs of TINY PRETTY THINGS with me. It will be thrilling and fun to see my sister and brother ooooh and ahhh over all that hard work becoming a real, bound book. But honestly, it would have been a blast either way.