Sunday, November 12, 2006

"It's not having what you want...'s wanting what you got."

- Sheryl Crow, Soaking Up the Sun

When I was up on stage at the Head to Toe Women's Expo in San Diego, I talked about my rocky and rewarding road to publication. I've always been an ambitious soul with long lists and five-year plans of all the things I wanted to achieve before I died. But when Hot Tamara came out in February 2005, I realized that success can be very traumatic. Instead of celebrating, I worried about the things that weren't happening - why wasn't I on the New York Times list, why was so-and-so on The Today Show, why oh why oh why. It wasn't a pretty place to be. But then I had moments of clarity like when five really wonderful women came to my booksigning in Phoenix, Arizona. Those moments were fleeting until I wrote a book titled, Baby You're The One.

No one would touch it. Never mind that I had been on TV, that Hot Tamara was Cosmo's Red Hot Read, etc. For months all I could think about was the book that would not sell. But then Sheryl saved me with that line from her song (see the title of this entry). I realized that my success traumatized me because I forgot to be grateful for it. Once I counted my blessings - and I mean, I wrote a list about twenty-five pages long - I came back to life. To me, entitlement and ingratitude are like cinderblocks chained to all of your limbs, and when they throw you off the boat, you sink right to bottom. But gratitude unchained me and I wasn't limited by all this "why not me?". I saw unlimited possibilities.

So I want you to know that I was humbled to be at the Expo Friday afternoon. I didn't go just to sell my books; I went to give something of myself to the women who took the time to listen. I think authors get really caught up in what our agents, our publishers, our publicists and our booksellers don't do for us. I'm telling ya, knock it off. I'm not suggesting we become stagnant or passive. Rather, we need to be actively grateful for what we have, and actively responsible for what we want.

I'd like to say thank you to Rosemarie and Debbie and their team who put on an amazing event and allowed me to attend. Thank you to my family and friends who cheered me on even though I actually contemplated hiding in the girls' room! Thank you to everyone who listened to my presentation, who came up to my booth and who purchased my books. I hope my personal story and my fictional stories at the very least, gave you a good laugh.



Anonymous said...

Wow, I can totally relate to that! And every time I start to creep down that road, I close my eyes and remember where I once was, and where I am now. . .

Awesome post!

Louise said...

Great post, Mary! I think a lot of unpublished writers assume that life is just golden after you're published. It's funny how little things (like a sentence in a song) can put things in perspective for us. Having a baby does that for me on a daily basis. When I'm stressed or lacking confidence or whatever... if she tugs at my leg and puts her arms up, none of it seems to matter as much. You know?

Anyway, great post!

Gillian Doyle said...

Bravo, Mary, for not only recognizing and embracing a wonderful life-lesson so early in your career, but for sharing it so beautifully here.

Gratitude brings out the best in us, which can and often does bring out the best in others. May this be a life goal for all of us.

Thanks for being my early morning inspiration!

Bethany said...

Great reminder... be happy for what you got. :-) I'll try!

p.s. glad the event was a success.

Dana Diamond said...

You already know I'm one of those who feel that way, but I wanted to pop in and say bravo too. You did a great job up there *and* I loved this post.

:) d

Sandra D said...

Hi Mary,

I heard that you did a spectacular job!