My first novel will be published tomorrow: a momentous event, and the only reason it isn’t the culmination of a lifetime’s ambition is that it wasn’t until I was almost 50 that I could allow myself to strive for things that weren’t about serving the needs of others. So, although I might not have been able to acknowledge it until recently, this is what I’ve always wanted. And I’ve worked damn hard to get here. Hurrah for me!
Yet in the larger scheme of things, my novel is insignificant. Although, because of its subject, it might help one or two people along the road to self-compassion, it’s not going to change the world. It’s not going to halt climate change or make the world a fairer place. Even on a less grandiose scale, it’s just one more novel in a world already bursting with books.
How do I reconcile these two apparently contradictory notions of my novel’s importance? How do I allow myself that frisson of excitement as I gaze across the room at an entire shelf of printed copies, in the knowledge that most of the world’s attention is elsewhere? How do I celebrate my achievement knowing that most people would (rightly) be unimpressed? I don’t want to dilute what this means to me; nor do I want to delude myself that, outside me and my small circle, it’s a big deal.
Meanwhile, I’m touched by the goodwill I’m encountering in the course of bringing the book to the attention of readers. From close friends to mere acquaintances, both those who love and those who have no time for books, those I meet in the flesh and those I encounter online, I’m amazed how much people are sharing in the joy.
So for now I’m going to indulge myself, partying with friends in the physical world at my two launch events, drinking virtual tea – or champagne – with my online friends on my tour of various blogs. I know there will be disappointments ahead – sagging sales, vindictive reviews, mere indifference – but I can’t lessen their impact by reining myself in now. I intend to walk around with a huge smile on my face for the next couple of weeks. Thank you so much for sharing it with me.