Looking Back (and a Fond Farewell)

It was the best of years.

It was the worst of years.

It was the year my first book came out.

It was the year I had multiple ideas rejected.

It was a year when I was told I was brilliant.

It was a year when I was told I was not.

It was a year when I got my first fan email.

It was a year when I planned my first book launch.

It was a year when my friends and students read my work.

And many of them loved it.

It was a year when I made my first video for a publisher.

It was a year when I did my first book signings.

It was a year when I was interviewed in newspapers and on TV as a writer.

It was a year when I got a good review in The New York Times.

It was a year I felt confident saying, “I’m a writer.”

On balance, there was more good than bad. There have been bumps and heartache along the way, and I have said more than once, “I’m going to stop writing,” and been told, “No. You’re too good.” So I kept writing. But not because someone flattered me. Because I couldn’t help myself. When I was studying theater in college, I remember people saying, “Only stick with it if there’s nothing else you can do. Only do it if you can’t help yourself.” Those in the know wanted the outsider to know that the life of the artist was that uncertain. That fraught. That harrowing. So I made a decision. There was something else I could do. I became a teacher. But the creative urge was still there, and so I wrote. And I will keep doing that since I can’t help myself. I really can’t. I love telling stories. I love the act of writing them down. Of getting people to see what I see.

And so we live on hope. All people do, but artists face this daily. A writer spends her time hoping an idea will come. Hoping the idea will bloom into something worthy. Hoping the work will be well received. Hoping people will want more.

A new year rolls in, and I’ve stopped to take stock. To ask myself, “Was it all worth it? Is there anything else I’d rather do with my time?” And the answer is yes and no. Yes, it was worth it. More that I could have dreamed despite disappointment. And no, this is how I wish to spend my time. Until the answers change, I will go on writing.

Because this year brought so many good times.

And next year might be better.

[*Note: This is my last post with EMU’s Debuts as my debut was some time ago. I leave this magnificent, supportive group better for having been a part of it, and looking forward to whatever comes next.]

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12 Comments

Filed under Book signing, Celebrations, Farewell, Happiness, rejection and success, Satisfaction, Thankfulness, Writing and Life

12 responses to “Looking Back (and a Fond Farewell)

  1. Michelle, this is brilliant and moving and a balm to everyone who tries to live by their creativity. May this coming year be one in which you receive more fan mail because the right people will want more of what you write.

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  2. I loved this post. It’s important to know that life isn’t all chocolate and roses even after publication. This is a tough and personal business, and you have to be in it for the love Congratulations on your book and here’s to a great 2012!

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  3. Only do it if you can’t help yourself–that sums it up. Congratulations on a fabulous debut! Good luck in your further journeys.

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  4. Mike Jung

    It’s been great taking the first steps into published authorhood with you, Michelle. Congratulations, and good luck with everything to come!

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  5. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    It’s been an honor to have shared this path with you, Michelle. Thanks for your honesty and for paving the way for the rest of us here on the blog and beyond. We’ll miss seeing your posts here, but look forward to hearing more good news from you in the future!

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  6. J. Anderson Coats

    You’re like the big sister who went to school first and gave us the lowdown – thanks for everything, and see you around!

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  7. Pingback: Looking Forward (and a friendly Howdy-do!) | EMU's Debuts

  8. So long, Michelle–although I know that you will not go far!

    So, here’s a little post-debut story for you. As a B-day gift, we bought a copy of your HAMLET for a teenager that we know. She LOVES it! Raving about it!! She also said that she read your book as she was assigned to read Shakespeare’s Hamlet for school and YOUR book really helped her understand Willie’s version. 😉 Excellent! 😉

    Will miss you on Emus, BTW… We know you’ll drop by from time to time, though..right? 😉

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  9. Michelle, thank you for sharing your journey (and your wonderful first novel) with us in the wider world. I look forward to seeing what the future brings to you… and from you. Congratulations, and best wishes.

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