I (Won’t Let Myself) Get Satisfaction

Michael & Ariella at my signing. See? Happy!

“You look happy,” said Michael Fiore after my very first book signing.

“I am. I’m trying to let myself feel happy and not undermine it,” I answered.

“Looks good on ya,” he replied.

True story.

Now, Michael has known me a long time. He knows I worry about the bird flu, flat tires, getting lost, being a good parent, eating too much ice cream, having frizzy hair, being an interesting teacher, and on and on.

If you only know me from pictures, you see I smile big. If you know me a little, you know I laugh a lot. If you know me well, you know that I worry. And laugh. Worry. Laugh. Worry. Laugh. It’s exhausting.

Being published has been one of the best things in my life, yet it’s been fraught with emotional challenges. Will I perform well at my book signing? Will the next book measure up? Was FALLING FOR HAMLET even any good? Am I getting enough publicity for my book? Do I sound stupid in interviews? Am I polite enough in my emails? Too needy? Too meek? Too bold? Too rambly? It’s like the Berenstain Bears book with Papa worrying while picking out a hat: “Too silly, too frilly, too beady, too bumpy, too leafy, too lumpy.” Or maybe I’m being Hamlet-y: flip-flopping emotions and tons of questions.

So my mission: focus on the joy. Because this IS a joyful time. And it might be a once-in-a-lifetime event. With my husband’s help, I’m getting better at it. He keeps telling me to “take the victory lap,” he makes me visit my books in bookstores, and he reminds me that this is beyond what I’d thought possible.

For the Jews in the crowd, taking a moment to be thankful for each piece of a story might bring to mind Passover and the repetition of Dayenu. Dayenu basically translates into, “It would have been enough.” I’ve begun to go through the publishing experience and to mentally celebrate each moment that would have been enough.

I wrote a book. Dayenu.

My friends enjoyed the emailed version. Dayenu.

I found an agent. Dayenu.

She found an editor who liked what I’d written. Dayenu.

The editor and her team helped make it a better book. Dayenu.

It got a hot cover. Dayenu.

Barnes and Noble put it on their shelves. Dayenu.

People are buying the book. Dayenu.

Readers like it. Dayenu.

People email me to say they were moved. Dayenu.

Teens are asking for a sequel and what’s coming next. Dayenu.

The editors want to work with me again. Dayenu.

The book was positively reviewed in Family Circle Magazine. Dayenu.

I had articles done about my work in Bethesda Magazine and The Washington Post. Dayenu.

I’ve gotten to know incredible writers from my agency and beyond. Dayenu.

My friends and family are happy for me. Dayenu.

They come to my book signings and send lovely messages of support. Dayenu.

And because it bears repeating . . .

I. Have. A. Book. Published. Dayenu.

It has all been beyond my wildest dreams. Truly. So when I focus on each moment, when I take in the lucky joy of it all, when I quiet the “what ifs” and the worries, I am happy.


Filed under Book signing, Celebrations, Happiness, Writing and Life

14 responses to “I (Won’t Let Myself) Get Satisfaction

  1. LOVE this post. Had you just pointed out the necessity of taking time to take joy, it would have been sufficient. If you had simply mentioned your husband’s gentle reminder to take the victory lap, it would have been sufficient. it’s all that and more–here’s to celebrating successes and locking the worry monster up every now and then…


  2. Popsy

    Knowing you, and your ability to laugh and to worry ~ I LOVE this post because it is SO YOU! Thanks to Jon for helping you enjoy the moment. Your book is fabulous, I could not put it down until I finished it and I’ll see you at Booktopia in September. YOU DID IT ~ time to celebrate YOU. It was your talent, your hard work, and your ability.


  3. L.B. Schulman

    Thank you for reminding me about DEYENU. It was used beautifully here–I will take that one with me. And what success you’ve had already! Good for you for slowing down enough to remind yourself to enjoy the moment. I know it must be hard, but at least you are trying, which is more than most of us do. Oh, and by the way, YOUR BOOK WAS VERY GOOD. So you can put that one to rest. You rock, Michelle.


  4. J. Anderson Coats

    I’d never heard of dayenu, but now I want to get it tattooed on my body somewhere.


  5. The Nerdy Reader

    Way to go Michelle! You deserve every second of joy!


  6. What a lovely post! I’m going to make my husband read it since I know he’ll laugh with recognition. He’s always telling me to ‘look toward the light.’ Now, I’m sure he’ll add ‘take the victory lap’ to his repertoire of encouraging words.


  7. Ariella

    Ironically, you just made me cry.


  8. Pingback: Enough is Enough! (or is it?) | EMU's Debuts

  9. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Michelle, your book was dayenu to keep me up until 3 o’clock in the morning reading to the end. I’m so glad you enjoyed your launch party. Keep taking those victory laps. 🙂


  10. Michelle, thanks for this lovely post. It is full of wisdom, heart, and truth. I appreciate your words here, for you sharing them so openly. They inspire me and help me to remember the bigger truths beyond the need to constantly focus on an endless list of goals, and instead learn to experience joy along the journey. Thanks!


  11. Michael Fiore

    It does look good on you…true story 😉

    But about that bird flu…


    • Michelle Ray

      Stop it! Stop it! Don’t make me think of the bird flu when I’m so happy!!!!


      • Michael Fiore

        Ok…ok…just couldn’t resist.

        On a more serious note — you absolutely deserve this. You have taken a great risk by putting your work, your vision, your passion out there and this is the world’s way of thanking you. I know it can be overwhelming but if it ever feels like too much or not genuine enough, we are all one step behind you. Just take a quick glance over your shoulder and we will be there for you.

        We couldn’t be happier for you…we are all smiling…true story:)


  12. Michael, now I’m crying. Course, it made me forget about bird flu, so that’s good.

    For anyone reading this who’s not Michael, my anxiety over bird flu some years back, and my willingness to believe the press’ usual gloom and doom forecast, which came in the form of a feathery creature, simply punctuated my constant level of worry. He found it funny. I laugh at myself readily.


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