Monday, July 23, 2007

It's Been a Year . . .

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.

12 comments:

Lisa said...

You had me at your paragraph about hearing from parents who had gone through what Ellen did, but when I read that your sons insisted on buying your book themselves so they could publicly show how proud they are of their mom, you pushed me over the edge and brought tears. It couldn't have happened to a nicer human being. May your hard earned good fortune continue and may novel number two bring you continued surprises!

kathryn magendie said...

Heck no it's not unprofessional! I'd be saying the same thing - with a few WhooHOOOOO's and YEEHAWWS thrown in!

Therese said...

YOU rock, Judy.

:)

Larramie said...

You had told me about the parents reaching out and thanking you, Judy, but never about your very proud sons and -- like Lisa -- I cried. Continue to touch us and you'll have a most wonderful, rewarding career.

Happy Anniversary!

reality said...

Judy,
If an author wants to know why to keep on with the struggle of writing; your post says it all.

The Writers' Group said...

Judy! I got through the parents leaning into you for a hug (don't ask me how), but your boys wanting to go into the bookstore, carry your book to the counter, and buy it with their own money? Pass me a tissue. A good writer and a good mother, what more could you need in life? Congratulations on a spectacular year.

Amy

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

It has been a great year and I'm so glad you all are some of the folks I've met along the way . . .

Lisa, Larramie and Amy, yup, I still tear up too when I think of my sons doing that. They'd watched me work on the is seven years, so it was a vcitory for the as well.

Kat, I think I heard your cheers.

Therese, right back at you. I can't wait until you're a year in as well.

Reality, I hadn't thought of it quite that way, but you're right. If you're a writer, giving up just shouldn't be an option.

kristen said...

Judy, I'm catching up on my reading a bit haphazardly these days, so I feel like I came to this post a bit late. Like so many who have commented here, I cried tears of joy when I read this. The image of your sons going to a bookstore and buying your book just pushed me over the edge. I'm so happy for you and so happy it's been such a wonderful, rewarding year. But, more importantly, and in a very selfish way, I'm thrilled you discovered blogs. How else would I have found you?!?!

Lynne Griffin said...

Judy,

You got me with your boys going in to buy your book, too. The children of writers know first hand the thrill and agony of the writing life, don't they? Happy Anniversary--you deserve to celebrate.

Lynne

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Kristen and Lynne, So glad to be sharing this with you all as well--thanks for al lthe warm wishes.

Bev Marshall said...

I have to add that it was a great privilege to be one of your fans before and after publication. You have maintained that "freshness" that is your beauty, and I know that everyone who hears you read or talks to you in your daily life thinks as I do...you've handled that first year with class and style.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Oh Bev, if only all writers could be as lucky as I was to have you mentoring me through it all. Your kind words mean more than you know.