When my novel first came I, I gave away copies as if they were Halloween candy. My family, my friends, my friends’ children, my friends’ children’s friends – you name it! It was both pride and promotion that spurred me to give away the finished product.
The initial response was amazing, exciting, and all very positive. The reviews were excellent, and I rode the wave of enthusiasm like a Hawaiian surfer. Of course, over time, the wave dwindled and the reality hit that I needed to get back to work. It wasn’t disappointing, just an inevitable part of the life cycle of a book.
Recently, however, I recaptured some of that initial excitement and it has given me quite a boost. A dear friend of mine (hey, Karen!) and I were talking about kids and school. Her daughter and my youngest daughter are the same age – in fact, only a few weeks apart in age. Karen adopted her daughter, and I was pregnant with mine while she went through the adoption process. We would frequently get together for lunches and discuss which one of us was more uncomfortable, had the worst wait, was more excited. Karen won, hands down. Single-parent adoption is not only ten times the stress, but requires ten times the courage of becoming a parent under “typical” circumstances.
I had given Karen and her daughter an autographed copy of my book when it first came out nearly two years ago. Just before Christmas, Karen asked when the new book would be coming out. I told her it was still just over a year away.
“My daughter will be so disappointed,” she said to me.
“She needs to read another book and write a book report, and she’s used your book twice already – once last year, once this year.”
I gave her a list of other books written by friends of mine that I know are excellent.
“Yeah, but she wants to read your books.”
My heart actually sped up a little. “I have a fan!” I said.
For a moment, it was as if I was in Washington, D.C. at the Book Expo America convention again. I felt that tingle of having people stand in line for me to autograph their copy of my book.
This isn’t why I write. I would keep writing even if I never sold another word to anyone. I would write regardless of my circumstances. But that feeling of connection, that someone else sees your work as being valuable; that feeling is powerful and it is thrilling. It inspires me and makes me want it more.
I wrote a lot over the holiday break. I wrote a lot on my break between classes this week. I have set aside time to write this weekend (actually telling my kids that the computer was “mine” for certain time periods so that they wouldn’t be downloading to their iPods when I wanted to be downloading from my brain!).
This little, exciting wave has resurfaced, and I am enjoying the ride.