Last week I went with my girls to the new library in the town right next door. I used to volunteer in the old library, running a weekly writing workshop for teens who wanted to write novels. Some pretty talented kids attended that critique group. Plus, lots of the librarians there were friends of mine. I was so excited to visit!
So there I was, standing in the “W” (yes, I go to the shelves where my books should be in every library I go in) and there was nothing there.
That’s when one of my fave library people came up. John is in my last book MILES FROM ORDINARY. He plays a librarian. And no I didn’t change his name and I never change names unless I get scared.
I told him I was looking for my books and he said, “Oh, we had to get rid of some of them. People weren’t checking them out.”
When I hugged John hello I was 5’10”.
When he walked away, I was 3’8″.
I wrote almost all my books in the city I live in now (years ago) or this library’s city. I started the DD while living in this city. THE CHOSEN ONE. The list goes on and on. I don’t know why I was so crushed. I guess I expected someone to say, when my books landed on the ‘throw away pile, “Not Carol’s! She’s one of our very own authors.”
I left the building feeling pretty sad.
What made it even worse was there was miles of empty bookshelves. Miles.
Last night Kyra said, “You have to read my new beginning, Mom. I think you’re going to really like it.”
This is her second book and I’m excited for her.
Then we started our book talk and after a while Kyra’s Hot Indian Lover (as she calls him and as he better not be) said, “Okay, that’s it. No more talk of books. This is getting too sad and depressing around here.”
We’d spoken about advances people shouldn’t have gotten and should have, about the NBA flub and how so many award-winning novels seem to lack something, how our books might never sell (hers) and don’t sell well (mine). The library incident.
What?! We always talk about writing this way. Complaining, exclaiming, oohing and aahing, laughing, wondering, hoping. We both LOVE to write (mostly) and certainly LOVE to have written.
So, this is what a pubbed writer friend of mine said to me, in part, a few days ago. He was talking about things he can’t stand in the business anymore and the list went like this: “children’s literature, publishers, editors, agents, ALA, IRA, NCTE, reviewers, review journals, SCBWI, young YA book authors, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, DreamWorks–leave anything out?” This friend is a fantastic writer, well-known in the writing community, who also knows, even with the awards, how we writers struggle.
Rick Walton (who’s just had foot surgery–everyone please pray for him so he doesn’t hurt too much and so he gets well fast) has always told me to whine about what I can control. He’s right, of course,
Even when something isn’t fair (we all know what Shirley Jackson said about something being fair), I need to put my whining into proper perspective.
And believe it or not, I’m trying and trying NOT to let things bother me (though the library deal really did).
Long ago, I started separating myself from almost everything that touts awards of this person or starred reviews of that person or how much money he’s making or who’s going where. I write my blog, run the conference, teach my amazing students, and write my books.
And I do NaNoWriMo.
I took Friday and Sunday off and I got my allotted words for the first four writing days: just over 9,000. And I was even rewriting as I went.
This I can control. The number of words I write.
Who I talk to and about.
The books I read and love or hate.
Even the libraries I visit.
And who I love.
That matters most.
Who I love.