My first book, Walking Backward, is being released today from Orca Book Publishers. This is a good day for me.
Not that I know what to do about it, promotions-wise. I feel like there’s a world of networking possibilities out there beyond me. (Many thanks to Terry Lynn Johnson, whom I met at an Agents Day conference hosted by SCBWI Canada, for pointing me in the right direction.)
I have arranged a book launch for November 1st. I told most of my friends and colleagues about the book. I’m in touch with the (tiny) local bookstore, and I contacted the (tiny) local newspaper. But I have to admit that networking is not my thing. I will do my best to get the hang of it, but I suspect that it’s never going to be my thing.
So… I’m going to have a great day without even thinking about book promotion. Instead, I’m thinking about something a friend said to me this summer. When Orca first sent me their catalogue for Fall 2009, listing my book, I took a copy to my night class (in child development–though my kids are 14 and 7, it’s never too late to learn what I’ve done wrong). I showed the catalogue to two dear classmates, Coral and Mary Ann. They were so excited for me! (I hadn’t before mentioned that I was a writer. Again, it’s the suck-at-networking part of my personality.)
Mary Ann’s eyes were so alight! She told me that she has always loved the written word and she would like to write books, too. Coral smiled and told me that when she was a girl she wanted to be a writer. (This happens all the time, people confessing to a desire to write. It’s a testament to the power of books. Every person who wants to write has been deeply moved by someone else’s writing.) Coral said, “There are so many obstacles in life, you really have to celebrate an achievement like this.” Those words have stuck with me, and they’re what I’m thinking about today instead of promotions.
There are so many obstacles to stop you from writing or finishing a book. Self-doubt, lack of free time, the pull of easier pleasures. It is so easy to spend years and years doing something other than writing. Not that writing is a better thing to do than, say, exercising, cooking dinner, walking the dog, helping the kids with homework, having a conversation with your spouse. Writing a book isn’t any more important than running a business or paying a mortgage or raising a family or exploring the world.
But if you really want to write, if you really have something to say that won’t let you rest until it’s on paper or screen, then you have to get over or around an awful lot of obstacles and take the time, every day or every week or whenever you can, to finish saying it. Then to revise and rewrite it for a reader instead of just for yourself. Then to market it–overcoming rejection, criticism, and absolute indifference–until you find an editor who falls in love with your story. Lots of obstacles. And a real achievement to celebrate.
So today I am celebrating. It’s my day to volunteer in the library of the local elementary school, and that’s an activity I love. Of course, I like helping the kids and talking to them about their book choices. But I also love shelving books and cataloguing new books and repairing books. It’s tedious and dusty and dull, but I genuinely enjoy it. Just being around children’s books is fun. I should have been a librarian. (But that might take the fun out of it.)
Then tonight, I’ll have take-out and wine with my family, help the kids with homework, walk the dog, and take the time to write.