In many ways my debut year was full of surprises. I received so many wonderful gifts that I hadn’t planned on—a blurb from one of the writers I most admire, positive reviews in outlets that still terrify me (can you say Kirkus, anyone?), pictures of my book purchased by friends old and new, near and far. I was truly surprised by how many friends not only bought the book but went out of their way to send me photos of it on the shelf in the store where they bought it, or flopped open across their legs in a vacation paradise. Imagine being able to send your mind, a little piece of your imagination and several years of your own hard work, on a vacation with someone who once shared their snack with you in fifth grade…it’s truly an honor. The whole process of publishing a book has been an honor, start to finish.
I actually didn’t go into this year with expectations, because I didn’t want to be disappointed. And there isn’t any point in having expectations for how something will turn out when it’s completely beyond your control. I did have big dreams, and none of them came true. It was fun to dream about Oprah or Reese Witherspoon endorsing my book. I dreamed of Bradley Cooper or some other star phoning my agent and raving about his urgent need to wine and dine me and tell me how he was going to adapt my book into a major feature film. I dream of things like picking out a fabulous gown and standing up at the National Book Awards and reading from my latest work because I’m one of the finalists. I suppose the fun thing about being a writer is there’s never any reason to expect any of this, but I can continue to dream of such things until I stop writing—it really doesn’t matter if they happen. They only thing that needs to happen is the writing. And that’s the best part.
I never expected to be chosen to write for an entire year on this blog. I’m so grateful to last year’s debs for giving me the opportunity, and for the chance to share it with the amazing Kai, Devi, Layne, and Stephanie. We’ll share this bond for life. We’ll never debut again. And I can’t forget to thank all of you who’ve been following along with us, reading our posts and guest interviews—I hope some of it was helpful! I hope all of it was enjoyable.
Here’s the thing that stands out most for me about the debut year—nothing has changed. And that’s perfectly fine. I have not achieved literary stardom or been featured in outlets like The New York Times or seen my book on any kind of bestseller list. I’ve been wondering if maybe we all expect just a little too much from publishing a book in terms of how it will change our lives, or change how we see ourselves. Even in a small way. I’m proud of myself for what I’ve achieved and the hard work I’ve done, but come to think of it, I have not changed at all. I realize now that I wasn’t supposed to. What I have done is to change the world, just a tiny little bit, by putting my words into it. My book has reached some readers. For a few hours while they read it, they inhabited the world I created. We made a connection. At the end of the day, that’s all I ever wanted, and the best I could have done.