My debut novel, Frankly In Love, goes on sale today. Needless to say, today is a strange, surreal, magical day for me.
I got my first writing award when I was six. I wrote a poem about Valentine’s Day, and it won a first prize medal. My mom was so proud she turned it into a craft piece and framed it and hung it on the wall. 41 years later, I still remember it like it was yesterday.
My first successful reading was when I was in third grade. I made the whole class laugh with a story I’d written. The following week, I bombed with another story. I never forgot those two very different responses.
My dad loved English literature. He would read Chaucer and Byron and Shakespeare by the light of his little oil lamp in his tiny hovel of a room. He studied his way out of poverty, going on to get a degree in English literature with a particular focus on Victorian metaphysical poets. Pretty sure I got my love of words from him.
I went to high school, then college, then grad school, then joined the working world—but I never stopped writing. I met and married a writer. Although neither of us were published at the time, we still compulsively wrote, because it was what we loved.
Nicki and I inspired and cheered each other every single day, and seventeen years later we still do. None of my writing happens without her.
I entered contests, did okay in some, failed out in lots more. I queried, got rejected. I didn’t keep the rejection letters because I never found that sort of thing validating. (I find validation validating.)
Nicki’s work started taking off, and thanks to her I found an agent. Still, it was years before I began Frankly In Love. I wrote other stuff the whole time, revising, reworking, never getting quite there. In my angrier moments I would fantasize about giving up writing altogether. Writing is so hard, after all. It takes forever. Who wants to do something really difficult that takes forever?
But if you’re a writer, then you already know that you can never quit writing. It would be easier to quit underwear or buttered toast or video games.
Now, years later, I have a book on the shelves. Shelves all over the country! Today is such a strange, wonderful, surreal day that I felt compelled to write this post to remember how I’m feeling.
How I’m feeling, by the way, is a little overwhelmed. I’m used to hiding away in small dim spaces and writing in solitude.
I’m a little proud, too. I didn’t give up—and look!
But mostly, I feel IMMENSELY GRATEFUL. Because of today, I now have gratitude to spare, and I will dole spoonfuls from this reservoir to myself, my family, friends, and colleagues for years to come.