Friday, April 04, 2014

On my book deal-- and what it means for you

I've always loved writing. I was the kid who got in trouble for not paying attention in third grade  because I was busy outlining a story idea. I loved the characters that spoke to me, and I loved putting down what they had to say. And as with most any writer, I grew up dreaming of a day I would see my book in a bookstore. One day, in college, I browsed the 'how to get published' section of my local bookstore. I sat down with a stack of books. And I read that trying to get published is about as easy as wrangling 15 koala bears into 15 car seats.

It's hard. It's really hard.

So I put the books away. I put my stories away. And I stopped writing.

Years passed, I tiptoed back into writing, blogging, and even wrote about how much I wanted to venture back into novel writing.  I wrote a lot about wanting to write. I talked a lot about wanting to write. [Friends, family, and book store employees can attest to that] But I was still too scared to actually, you know, do it, knowing how many obstacles to the ultimate dream lay in the way.

And then one day, I spoke with a friend. We had the age-old conversation of what it is we dreamed of for our lives. I told him I wanted to hike the Napali coast, eat pizza in Italy, and then mumbled almost under my breath that I wanted to write novels. When he asked why I didn't pursue this, I shrugged. I explained to him the market. I explained how much harder it had gotten.

And he said: imagine yourself near the end of your life, rocking out on your front porch and reflecting back. Are you going to be glad your book is not published because the market is hard so you didn't try? Or are you going to be glad that you wrote a book you're proud of and that while it didn't get published, at least you know you tried?

Those words took me back to when I applied for my Equal Justice Works fellowship. I applied late in the game and the competition in a declining legal market was tough. I spoke to an adviser about these challenges. Her response: Well, you're not guaranteed to get it even if you try, but you are guaranteed to NOT get it if you don't try.

So I bottled up these lessons. I started to write. And in writing my novel I learned how much of writing is about the love of writing. The pure love of seeing words take the shape of countries and cities and people and love. And it wasn't always easy- sometimes it was boring- but I wrote through it all. I wrote my heart out.

And long story short? The dream I had as a kid, came true.

So what does my story mean to you?

It means low odds are still odds. It means that if you want to do something with all your heart and soul, the chances it won't work out, are not a reason to not try.

And in the spirit of my friend who gave me the advice that spurred my writing so many years ago, ask yourself: At the end of your life, what is you will regret not having done? Having tried? What is your dream? Deep sea diving? Writing a screenplay? Running a marathon?

What is the thing you want most?

Know that the ultimate destination may not happen. But know that it might. And know that the journey is ultimately the point, and a journey in pursuit of what you love is a journey never wasted.

And then? Go do it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Book Deal Announcement: A dream came true

I've been sitting and staring at this computer screen for a good long while. I've written nearly one thousand posts here, but today, I type and backspace, and words... they fail to materialize.

You see, a dream came true today.

If you know me, you know I love to write. I write essays, poems, articles, blog posts, and stories.

I love writing stories.

Writing stories is my personal way of unearthing the heart of what it means to be human. It is how I understand the world around me.

Like any novelist, I dreamed of the day my book would see the light of print. I also knew the market. I knew it wasn't easy to break in.

But a dream doesn't know about what can and can't happen. A dream just tugs at your heart and gently guides you down its path.

And well, today, sitting on my front porch watching my kids draw on the sidewalk before me, I saw a tweet. Then another. And another. And then-- it was an avalanche of love.

Because you know that dream I had?

Today it came true.

Today, along with many of you, I saw this:

And well, I have tears. Tears even as I type these words out. But words, they're failing me. I want to tell you how this feels. How one small book containing so much love and hard work and so many dreams... and I fall short. Words, fail.

While I compose my words, and while I find my bearings, I do want to say thank you.

Seriously, thank you.

Some of you are new readers. Some of you have been here the entire decade. Many of you have become my friends. Have encouraged me to follow this dream. You helped me keep my dream alive and from the bottom of my heart I can never fully express my gratitude.

And today? I am grateful. I am humbled. And I am happy.

silly moment courtesy of Cylinda Parga and Yen M. Tang

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Happy

Determined to finally print and frame some updated photos for the house last night, I was struck by a series of photos taken by dear friends of mine, Cylinda and Yen. They're excellent  [friends, photographers and makers of food] and these? These two pictures are outtakes worthy of a large wall-space in my house. Why am I posting them? Because these two pictures make me so happy. I have a million photos of my kids from my cell phone, digital camera, and big old SLR. But with a baby so often in my arms, it's rare to have a photo of just me and my eldest enjoying a moment together- and on the topic of me, it's rarer still to have photos with me in them period as I'm normally the person behind the viewfinder. I'm thankful for good friends who took time out of their busy lives to take some great photos. And I'm sharing these as a not-so-silent nudge that they make this a professional thing. They're seriously too good not to. Lucky for their friendship, and lucky for captured moments as precious as these.