Saturday, November 14, 2015

This Day

The funny thing about my meeting yesterday was that it was held in a small room in the back corner of the library. As in, I had to walk through the library, past rows and rows of colourful books - published books - to get there. Walking through a library was one thing last year. This year, it is something else. Also, it was one thing on the way in and another altogether on the way out, something I'll try to explain later.

The librarian who led me to the room walked quickly, so I had to cram all of my thoughts into a much smaller time frame than if I'd known where to go and went there myself. I, personally, would have walked much slower; I had a lot of things to think. I was nervous, for one thing, and excited, for another. But mostly I was looking at the books around me and realizing, maybe for the first time, that a book is not just a book. It's months, or more often years, of hard work and years, or more often a lifetime, of dreaming and planning and thinking and researching and, ultimately, it's someone's dream come true.

Shelves and rows and racks of those things.

Add to this that a book is a much more personal thing than I'd ever realized before I tried to write one. Whenever someone I know asks me what my book is about, I get all awkward and weird. Like I'm thirteen and they're asking me who I like. I can't talk about it. I can't imagine anyone else ever reading it, but also: that's the point of trying to get it published. I have a whole new respect for the people whose books inhabit that library. There are big, meaty chunks of their hearts in those books.

Shelves and rows and racks of heart chunks. Gross.

And kind of breathtaking.

Anyway, I was thinking all of these things as I was speed-walking to keep up with the fast librarian. Thanks to her, I arrived at the office fifteen minutes early. If we'd dawdled, it might have only been twelve or thirteen, which feels a little less extreme. I didn't want to be extreme. I don't like to appear too eager. It turns people off.

But there I was, fifteen minutes early. Too keen.

So I stood and waited. And I remembered that I hadn't eaten lunch yet, even though it was 2 pm. I just hadn't thought of it. And I remembered that I'd drank an entire Bodum of coffee that morning. That was dumb of me. Add that to an already overwrought, nerve-wracked mind, and you get very shaky fingers. The Writer in Residence would notice this, I thought, and that made my fingers shake more. (She has a name, the Writer in Residence, but I prefer to call her Writer in Residence. It's just such a great title. I aspire to it.)

But you probably don't really care to hear about me standing in the back of a library shaking my fingers all over the place; you just want to know how the meeting went. That's what I meant to tell you from the beginning anyway.

It went...great. Really great. The greatest, actually. It went better than I daydreamed it could go, and I am a person given to extreme daydreams. I'm going back. We're going to keep in touch. She believes in me and in my little book and that is a fantastic, amazing feeling. She 'got' it, even though I think it's kind of a weird book and I mostly worry that people won't. She wants to help me find a home for it and she wants to read more.

My heart burst a thousand times over the course of the meeting. I didn't know what to say back to her most of the time so I just kept saying, "Thank you," and, "You're so nice," over and over.

We talked for over an hour and when I left, the corners of my mouth hurt from being stretched out so far to both sides. And this time when I walked past the books, like I said earlier, they looked different to me. Less like other people's dreams and hard work and heart chunks and more like mine. Does that make sense? Not that these books were mine, but that mine could be in there too. Less like these authors were mythical creatures and more like they were just regular people who worked very hard and had some neat ideas. Less unattainable. Mainly, I think, they just didn't taunt me anymore.

I have spent my whole life dreaming about writing a book but feeling cautious about it. I've been optimistic and pessimistic and nothingimistic and I've worked at it tentatively, not wanting to get too wrapped up in something that would probably go nowhere. And then along comes someone who says, "This could go somewhere."

And even if it doesn't go anywhere, I'll still remember this day. This day was important to me.