On Monday, Tara talked about watching readers react to her book. There is a great deal of joy in having our work read. It is exciting, and a little scary, to know that our books will touch people’s lives. That maybe the words we put on the page will leave readers a little different from who they were before they read the book. The knowledge that my art would remain hidden and untouched if I didn’t seek publication is what drove me to work toward this goal, so of course, reaching readers has been the prize my eye has been on for years.
But as I write this, my last blog post as an unpublished author, I find myself thinking less about those who will become part of this journey in the coming months and years, and more about the people who have been with me along the way, and those who no longer are.
When I joined the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, it was with a selfish goal of getting published. It was a move I made for my career and my writing. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Erin Murphy, but I admit I had dollar signs in my eyes as I signed the contract.
I had no idea of the community that would become mine. Of the friends and colleagues, peers and mentors that would become a part of my life because of my agency. It is not only a community that gives writing support, but lends a hand to each other when times are rough, whether it is a flooded house, a death in the family, a sick child, a financial crisis. It includes people who cook plum dumplings and blueberry pies for a person, because they can (Thanks again, Tara and Tam!) It is a community that laughs together, cries together, eats chocolate together, and sometimes even forms bands and sings together.
This community lost one of its cherished members a month ago, when Gwen McIntosh passed away. If you didn’t know Gwen, go back through our blog and you will find her icon there, “liking” almost every post that we have posted, and commenting on many as well. That’s the kind of person Gwen was–supportive, warm, funny. Not one to let you get too full of yourself, but also one to make sure every moment was celebrated! In short, even though Gwen hadn’t met many of us in person, she was a true friend none the less.
Gwen’s death was a surprise to all of us. She hadn’t been sick. She wasn’t elderly. She had plans, dreams, and goals for the future. Among those unfinished dreams, was the dream to publish a novel. Even as she held that dream in her heart, she cheered for those of us who were achieving it.
And so, as I move closer to the publication of my first book, a book about dreams and wishes, and hopes that can be either crushed or fulfilled, I find myself reflecting less on where I am going, and more on where I have been. Life deals us so many things, both glorious and heartbreaking. If I cry when my book is released, it will be out of joy for those brought to me by this journey, and grief for those I have lost along the way. Out of gratitude for what I have accomplished, and sorrow for what others have not. Out of acknowledgement of how simultaneously momentous and insignificant the moment really is, in the grand scheme of life.