Year in Review
Someone just knocked on the door in my new novel, but I have no idea who’s there. I have peered into my subconscious by pretending to ignore it while eating tortilla chips. I have written a list of possible visitors. I have wondered if it was only the wind, a ghost, or the imagination of the character who stands in the kitchen. I have eaten chocolate.
This looking-in-every-direction brings to mind Janus, the old Roman god whose dual-direction gaze is often associated with January, which reminds me I never did write my “year in review” post. I decide to look up my book sales and discover I’ve sold enough to be heartened, and few enough to be discouraged. Then I click on the map of the United States, and scroll through: New Mexico, Missouri, Florida. Look at that, I think. Twelve people bought my book there. Thirty-six! I don’t even know anyone in Florida! I close my eyes and remember the girl I once was.
I submitted my first story for publication to Good Housekeeping Magazine when I was in seventh grade. Obviously, I had no idea what I was doing. The bleak, but heart-warming fiction was written on lined paper in black-blotted ink cursive. My family was experiencing financial challenges that year and my goal was to make a sale and save Christmas.
When the rejection came it was the standard printed form. I was disappointed, of course. Used to being the darling of my rural school’s English department, I was initially surprised there was no personal note though it wasn’t long before I appreciated being treated like a real writer.
So began decades of such respect! Last year, when I attended the Association of Writers Program for the first time, I walked through the book dealers’ room and thought, Oh I was rejected by you, and you, and you too. It was wonderful, actually.
Because, of course, wherever I go, so goes the girl who became the woman who wrote through rejection, who just this morning scrolled through a map of the United States and discovered it populated by strangers who bought her novel.
The numbers aren’t going to impress anyone in New York. They won’t impress anyone who has posted a really cute dog or cat video. But they did impress the girl who sat in her room, chewing on her pen, dreaming of being a writer.
Reader, I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for reading my book. Thank you for buying my book. Thank you for telling others about it. Thank you for writing to me. Thank you for your thoughtful, intelligent critiques. Thank you for the book club invites. Thank you for your support. Thank you for being part of my story. Thank you.