This Thursday, I’ll make my small contribution to Thanksgiving dinner—candied yams, topped by slightly charred marshmallows. Not everyone loves them, but enough people do that when I didn’t make them one year, they were missed.
That's life? Most of us can’t make the entire dinner, nor can we count on whipping up the one dish that every one at the table will mound onto their plates. That’s how it is with books, too. And authors. We’d all love to write the literary equivalent of mouth-watering stuffing or the world’s best apple pie. But maybe whatever we
contribute is enough. In that vast buffet of books, we bring to the table what we can. And hope it appeals to enough palates.
I’m grateful this year especially that my one small contribution to bookshelves is finding its way to the right reading palates.
My first book is now six months old and amid all the busy-ness, the feeling that remains strongest is gratitude. For everyone who helped along the way, in any capacity. Also I'm now grateful for what once grated on me: how, just as soon as
Starting with Goodbye
hit shelves, people began asking about a second book. (It resembled the way, so soon after having my first child—following three-plus years of trying, miscarriages, treatments—people asked when I’d have another.)
Lately though I’ve come to appreciate this question, which I now see as a vote of confidence. If people—not just friends and family, but also new-to-me folks—care if there’s another book down the pike, that tells me someone other than me is interested in my words. At first, I deferred these questions with, “We’ll see….” Now when I get this question, I take a beat to let the gratitude register, then reply yes, something
in the works.
About five years ago, I remember one particular visit to a large bookstore. This was around the time I realized that the book I had in mind wasn’t working, and just before I began the manuscript for SWG. I was a little discouraged (funny how, even when writers are discouraged with our writing, we go to bookstores to feel better!).
I skulked around, thinking, here I am, surrounded by thousands of books—many great books of course, but some not so great ones too. In that vast sea of books by authors of every kind, where many authors’ output fills entire shelves, why can’t at least
of those books be mine? I’d had this kind of demoralizing bookstore visit before, usually ending with buying more than I could afford, plus a fattening muffin.
But this particular time I recall having a second, parallel thought. If so many writers have indeed published so many books, then surely that means I can too. I don’t need to fill a shelf with decades of output. I was getting a bit of a late start anyway—just as I did in my mid-30s with childbearing.
But what about just one book? Surely, I could do that. That day, the thousands of books already on the shelves didn’t—as they had before—signal that I was locked out, but instead that there was plenty of ever-expanding room.
Plenty. So much plenty. These last six months of plenty have been, frankly, glorious. Thanks for being any part of it. Here’s hoping that you have a week, a season, of plenty, too. That your thankfulness overflows.