Saturday, March 1, 2008
All those years of struggling between the cushy TV exec job and now? Yup -- it was worth it
And how do I know it was worth it? Not because I can see my book on the shelves in B&N or Borders. Not because I can find CE on Amazon.
I know it was worth it because Lianne told me so.
So this afternoon I took the train out to Stamford, Connecticut (had to take some pics of the waiting area, natch), and then took a cab to Borders for my reading/signing.
The thing is, no one showed up.
Now I had been been prepared by many people who know this drill that this type of crisis might occur. And that if it did, I should remain calm rather than thinking it's an opportunity to take to my bed and curl into the fetal position and stare at the wall for a week.
I'm proud to say I remained calm. That being said, I did decide that even though I had already had a black & white cookie for dessert at the deli next door a half hour earlier, the minute I got away from my non-existent swarm of fans, I was going back there to get a coconut cupcake to drown my sorrows.
And then, just as it looked like all was lost, Lianne showed up.
Lianne is a sixth grader from Mahopac, NY and, with her twin sister and father trailing behind her, she marched right up to me (through the non-existent crowd) and began to tell me how much she loved CE, and how great it made her feel because Cindy was such a real character rather than a mean popular girl, and how excited she was when she found out I was going to be here today, and how she checked my blog every day, and how thankful she was that I signed her book and took the time to talk to her, and how she couldn't wait to go to school on Monday and tell her English teacher that she had met me.
When I told Lianne that if she didn't stop, she was going to make me start crying, I really did mean it.
And when I told her that she had just made my year, I meant that, too.
Maybe I just haven't found the right balance yet, but as far as I'm concerned, being a writer is one of the weirdest lifestyles you can choose. In fact, I don't think you choose it -- the longer I do this, the more I feel that it chooses you. All I know is that over the last six years I've spent many, many days alone at my desk in my nightgown until it was time to go to yoga at 4:30, not talking to anyone/thing other than my cats, creating this world and these characters who -- although I found them interesting -- might have only been interesting to me. And then, yeah, my agent Kate said she liked them, and then my editor Jen does, too, and then actually goes and pays me money for it and publishes it, but while I love the two of them like sisters, the truth is they're both in their 30s and it's been a while since they've been the targeted demographic for YA books.
So to have this sweet, dear girl -- who I could tell within two seconds of talking to her was so smart, and so cool, and so well-read -- to have her say that my book had made her feel that everything was going to turn out okay if she just kept being herself, even though it was hard at times because she isn't popular and she definitely marches to the beat of her own drum...I'm telling you, that meant THE WORLD to me.
Because that's EXACTLY what I had hoped to do with this book -- let girls know that if you're true to yourself, then you'll always find a happy ending -- even if it doesn't come until long after you're out of school.
Sure, it would be great to sell lots of books, and to have people show up at signings, but, honestly, I feel like if none of that happens, it doesn't matter because next to the morning that Kate called me to say that Jen and Penguin wanted to publish CE, I think the conversation today with Lianne was the Second Best Moment Of My Life.
Forget winning a Pulitzer or a National Book Award -- my book now has a spot on the "Most Special Books" shelf of Lianne's bookshelf. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is way cooler than a prize.
Thank you, Lianne, for everything. You seriously did make my year. And because of that I promise I will continue to spend more nightgown-clad days alone in my apartment not talking to anyone but my cats so that I can write more books for you to read.