There are so many ways to view that phrase, so many different inflections. For me, this week, it's been a full year of being a published author. Whew. Pretty amazing. I had all sorts of dreams and hopes and wonderings for what the first day, week, month, year would be like.
Here's a brief summary: 2 TV interviews, 1 radio interview, 1 podcast. 5 literary festivals. 18 book club chats, 11 bookstore appearances, 8 visits with high school creative writing classes, 3 conventions/luncheons with organizations, 1 four-week class taught. 1 trip to NYC. I've made drop-in visits and signed copies of my book at bookstores in 10 states.
But those statistics don't begin to tell the story. I don't even know if I can put it into words (kinda scary as a writer to say that). A year ago I hadn't yet discovered blogs, let alone thought I'd ever have one. A year ago I hadn't yet experienced walking into a bookstore and not only seeing my book on display, but having employees saying (before I'd introduced myself), "Hey, it's the author!" And year ago I hadn't met most of the fabulous writers I now consider friends.
I hadn't heard from mothers and fathers who'd experienced what I'd only imagined. I hadn't known they'd show me pictures of their children and the organ donors who'd received life-saving organs from those same children. And I hadn't yet hugged those moms and cried with them as they thanked me for putting into words what they couldn't. In a radio interview the other day, the co-host asked me if I felt "like a success" and if so, how. I told her the biggest thrill, bigger than signing a contract for my manuscript, bigger than seeing my book in stores, was hearing from readers all across the country. Readers who read my book, connected with it and took the time to write me and tell me. And that's the truth. Knowing that my words resonated to someone I've never met, except through my characters, is success beyond any measure.
I remember when my oldest son turned one, and I looked back over his first year. He'd gone from a four and a half pound preemie to an almost-eighteen pound almost-toddler who could run and climb and laugh and who'd stolen my heart from the first second. I was stunned to think that a year earlier I hadn't know him, hadn't been a mom, and now, for the rest of my life I would. And it was this same oldest son (now 21), who insisted last summer that he didn't want one of the complimentary copies of my book, no, he and his brother wanted to walk into a bookstore, plunk down their own money and buy it themselves. And, mention to the clerk that their mom had written it. (Yes, I cried.) And now, looking over the first year of my book's life, I feel some of the same awe I felt with him. A year ago, I didn't yet see myself as an author. Now I do.
And, I have to say, as unprofessional or unsophisticated as this might sound: cool beans, hot damn, it totally rocks.