It’s A Journey, Not A Destination
Instant success, I’ve heard of this elusive creature, but I have yet to see it. It is a powerful beast, more driven than a band of wild horses, fire breathing, sharp of tooth and claw, and the likely trapping of viral YouTube videos rather than publishing. In the realm of writing, this animal is almost mythical.
Success is obtainable, but rarely is it caught overnight…and not without a fight. Smear on the warrior paint, dig your trench, and settle in for the war…
Yesterday I went to an author’s luncheon sponsored by the Metro-Detroit Book and Author Society. I sat at a table in the back of a banquet hall, anonymous among a crowd of a thousand, watching as five fine authors spoke about their most recent works. I tried to keep in mind William Butler Yeats’ sage advice: “Be secret and exalt Because of all things known That is the most difficult.” I wanted it to be me up there behind the podium, telling the room that I had written a novel, what it was about, and how I had done it. But I reminded myself that this is a process—a journey, not a destination. I just haven’t come to that stage in my odyssey…yet…and when I do, I’ll do it on my terms.
This IS part of the journey: the chance to learn from veteran authors and to give to them the thing that I crave—a taste of success. I believe that in order to get something you desire, you first have to give it.
I was soon cheered-up by my friend, Molly, as she sat next to me at the table. She encouraged me to eat my dessert first (a vanilla crème-filled cannoli with chocolate chips and confectioners’ sugar that they positioned in front of each place setting prior to the entrée—the idea being that we would wait throughout the luncheon to have it last with our coffee). Instead, Molly made the argument that we should eat it first so that we wouldn’t get too full on the entrée to enjoy it. I agreed, much to the disapproving glances of the other ladies at the table. Apparently, my journey also begins with dessert first.
Among the speakers, I most enjoyed Gish Jen and her novel: World And Town. It’s about a sixty-eight-year-old Chinese-American woman who recently loses her best friend and also her husband to cancer in a span of a year and begins the process of starting her life over. For Molly, it was a toss up between Michele Norris (a radio personality on NPR) who wrote: The Grace of Silence and Sylvia Nasar (best known for her biography on John Forbes Nash entitled: A Beautiful Mind…yes, it was made into a movie starring Russell Crowe) and her book: Grand Pursuit.
The Grace of Silence is a conversation about being African-American in America and it focuses on Michele Norris’ family, and in particular, her grandmother’s struggles against racial prejudices. Grand Pursuit is an epic story about the making of economics, and how it (economics) rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation by placing its material fate in its own hands rather than in Fate.
The funny thing to me is that none of the authors we liked had the longest line at the book signing after the event. The author that most people liked was Susan Orlean and her book Rin Tin Tin: The Life of the Legend. It’s the history of Rin Tin Tin. Molly nudged me with her elbow while we were in line and said, “Next time, you should write a book about a dog…everyone loves dogs.” I smiled because she’s right; everyone loves dogs.
When I got home from the luncheon, I fished in my purse to locate the bright orange bookmark that I had received at the event. It has all of the featured authors printed on it, along with the titles of their books. Carefully, I wrote at the top of the bookmark: Amy A. Bartol and Inescapable, just to let the universe know that I am ready to present at the next author’s luncheon.