A few days ago the Da Capo catalog arrived with my two-page spread, my author photo, a description of my book and a short bio and staring at it, I felt… weird. Not bad weird. Just weird. Weird that the way I imagined seeing my name and my picture in print, the “reality” of what I’d dreamed and hoped for and wanted for so long that at times I was certain might never happen, didn’t feel the way I thought it would feel. At all. I mean I was happy and I thought, Wow this looks really good but it didn’t change my world dramatically. I was on my computer, in my running clothes, my hair in a baseball cap, in the middle of revising an article due next week and discussing more cover ideas with my editor and thinking about revisions I was going to have to make for my new book proposal and the dogs needed to go out…
And I thought back to when I first wanted to write because words and books moved me, made me feel less lonely with my thoughts and when I was brave enough to put my own words on the page, I thought, It’s all about the writing. Then at some point I wanted an audience larger than myself and my writers’ group and I thought, It’s all about getting an agent. And then after I landed my first agent and she didn’t sell my book, I thought, It’s all about getting the right agent. And then after getting the right agent and he did sell my book I thought, It’s all about getting the book contract. But after that I had to finish writing the book and I thought, It’s all about writing the best damn book I can. But after that was done I thought, It’s all about promoting the book.
And then last weekend in Chicago at the Pilcrow List Fest, my first time out in public promoting my book and as soon as I sat on the panel with all the other writers and the conversation started, I realized we were all just writers discussing writing, our love of words and it all came back to what I originally thought. It’s all about the writing. All about my insatiable desire to express something and then something else again.
And while I know the “reality” is that it’s hard to stand out and make it in the publishing world and I know I have to do everything in my power to promote my book, the reason I’ve stuck it out this long in this writing business is because I believe in the power of words to move and heal people, to make a difference in the world.
And for now that’s the “reality” I’m trying to hold on to.