I’m in an emotional mood. Tomorrow – well, tonight, at midnight – I become a published author. I have written a book, and edited that book, and watched it go on sub, and watched it get a book deal, and edited it some more, and then I’ve watched it slowly surface into the world. It’s called LYING BENEATH THE OAKS. I’ve reached the stage of the process where I choke up.
Tomorrow, I have a book in the world. For the rest of my life, and for as long after that as anyone remembers me, I’ll be a published author.
I know not everyone feels the way I do about books, so let me try to explain. When I was young, before kindergarten even, I read constantly. My parents would call my name and it was like the sound came from the end of a tunnel and tugged me back into the world with a not-entirely-welcome jerk. I lived in those worlds and had truer friendships with Anne of Green Gables and Pippi Longstocking and Blossom Culp and Beezus and the Railway Children and the All-of-a-Kind Family than I did with plenty of the real girls I saw around me every day. They meant everything to me. I couldn’t get a new supply of books fast enough. I’d mourn every time I exhausted a loved author’s oeuvre.
As I aged, the passion didn’t change; only the authors. I learned about romance from Kathleen Woodiwiss and Danielle Steel. By the time I got the birds and the bees talk, it was old news thanks to my surreptitious trips to my mom’s bookcase. As a young adult, I lived on ramen and my library card. As a newly-employed professional, I moved dozens of boxes of books from place to place for years. I’d have done without furniture first.
I never tried to write a book. I didn’t even take a creative writing class after the required unit in middle school. There’s a valley between appreciation and creation I never dared to cross.
That was then.
My children were born. I bought them bookcases and packed them full of picture books and then chapter books. We read every night, like clockwork. They learned to read on their own, but I read all seven volumes of Harry Potter aloud to my youngest anyway. He was at the age when he preferred it. Their schedules began to fill with sports and music lessons. I had time I hadn’t had before.
One night, on a walk in the summer of 2012, my husband laughed at the description I related of a woman I’d seen in town. Neither of us knew her, but I felt like I did. I loved making up backstories and telling them to my husband. He pulled up short and said, flatly, that I’d be wasting a gift if I didn’t try to write a book.
So I sat down and tried. I wrote two chapters and read them back. They were horrible: flat and meandering and lifeless. I closed the file and forgot about them for over a year, when it occurred to me that writing and editing were two different things. I could do both. I never looked back.
Publishing a book is a dream. After tomorrow, maybe someone else will get lost in the pages of my book. Maybe my book will travel from starter apartment to starter home with someone else. I’ve completed the circle. It took a lifetime to get here, but here I am.
THE DARKEST FLOWER:
LYING BENEATH THE OAKS: