I admit it. I’m not always grateful.
It’s not that I’m ungrateful. It’s that I frequently forget to feel gratitude, the same way I frequently forget to keep in touch with my long-distance friends. My intentions are worthy, my actions (or lack thereof) are not.
I spent the past few days in the Bay Area on a book tour, which sounds a lot more glamorous than it really was. It started out with a flight delay that made me miss the first 105 minutes of my first 120-minute event, a book signing way south in Watsonville.
From there I went on to a meet-and-greet in Los Gatos, followed by a private party in Emeryville. The culmination of the tour was an author event in Palo Alto. It was somewhat exhausting. I did a fair amount of whining. I didn’t sell as many books as I’d hoped, and this whole self-promotion thing puts me way out of my comfort zone.
But now that the tour is over and I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I’ve realized this tour gave me at least five reasons to be really grateful.
- Author Christine Z. Mason and I have known each other for years through an online writing group, through which we exchange our writings to one another for critique. She’s a talented author, and we developed a friendship through email and phone calls. But we’d never met in person until our first event in Watsonville (the one I nearly missed altogether). Thank goodness we clicked! And, as we spent a lot of time over the next few days in each other’s company, we discovered we had much more in common than just our writing dreams and themes. I’m thankful for my new(ish) friend, Christine.
- I really am terrible at keeping in touch with people, and if it weren’t for Facebook and Words With Friends, my friends (and even relatives) would surely forget about me. But because of this tour, I was able to see some of them again and rekindle our relationships. I won’t name you all. Just know that I’m thankful for re-connecting with you.
- I like meeting people. I like giving talks. I like bookstores, and sometimes I like parties. But I don’t like promoting myself, or my book. And I especially don’t like asking people to buy my book. Fortunately, there are bookstore people who have enough faith in my work to give me the courage to do these things, like Kelly at Crossroads Books and Cheryl at Village House of Books and Sarah at Books Inc. And there are regular people out there, too, who are willing to show up to events for authors like me and sit through presentations and shell out the money for books. Some of them are avid readers. Some aren’t, but they were there, anyway, including the sweet little homeless woman in the back of the room who courageously participated in the Q&A. I’m thankful for all the peeps who supported me on this tour.
- Anyone who’s gone on a book tour, and anyone who travels for any sort of work (and believe me, book tours are work), will tell you that these are costly endeavors. Sure, there’s the financial aspect of plane tickets and rental cars, but more important are the relationship costs. You leave your loved ones behind, and it’s not always at a convenient time. This was the case for me, and I wasn’t there when I wish I’d been. I’m thankful for my family’s understanding and patience.
- Carl Sagan said, “Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people…who never knew one another.” I believe in the power of books for the reader and the power of writing for the writer. Whether on a page or on a screen, the sharing of stories helps us understand what’s going on in the world around us. I am so thankful to have this opportunity to call myself a writer, to be able to share characters and conflicts and landscapes that may resonate with, or comfort, or entertain someone in the Bay Area or halfway around the world. To be part of an amazing tribe of storytellers.
PS: One last thing, for those of you who read my blog, I’m thankful for you too!