I can't believe it has taken me nearly three months to blog about Zenn Diagram's release. I feel like I've been walking around in a haze for the past year, so busy with my day job and the college search process and just life in general that I haven't had much time to reflect about what has actually happened. The experience has been surreal, in both good and not-so-good ways.
Mainly, I'm grateful and amazed that this lifelong dream has finally come true. Walking into a book store and seeing ZENN DIAGRAM on the shelf? Crazy. I'm forever thankful to my former agent (Bethany Buck) for taking a chance on me, to everyone at Kids Can Press/KCP Loft for seeing something in my book and bringing it into the world so beautifully, especially my editor Kate Egan, who is cool and amazing in all the ways. I'm honored and humbled to have such dear friends and family, who have supported me and bought my book and given me generous and thoughtful feedback. I will never forget the euphoric feeling the night of my book release, which I owe to everyone who came to my signing and release party, to the friends who made signs and t-shirts and special cocktails to honor the occasion. And to those who weren't there but sent messages of support and love. You all are seriously the best.
Knowing that hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people are now reading my words is both super cool and utterly terrifying. I've gotten some great reviews that make my day. They just get me, get my book, get what I was attempting to do. Engaging with "fans" has been so much fun -- one of the very best parts of the whole experience. But I've also gotten some reviews that make me sad, angry, and doubtful that my book has any merit. They hate my book, seemingly hate me, and leave me feeling like complete shit. It's a weird roller coaster of emotions, and I haven't yet thickened up my skin so that the negative reviews roll off me (or if that is impossible, at least I need to learn NOT to read them at all).
Likewise, this past year has been simultaneously one of the best and worst of my life, full of ups and downs that leave me feeling constantly unsettled. I went back to work full time in January of 2016 after 17 years of working only 2-3 days a week, and promptly sold my book 3 weeks later. I loved my part-time schedule. And it's not even a case where I didn't know what I had until it was gone -- I knew exactly how lucky I was and appreciated every bit of it for those 17 years. I know that in the real world most people work full time and that I shouldn't complain, but I seriously can't explain how much I miss those two days off every week. For writing, sure, but also for grocery shopping and doctor's appointments and exercise and just all the stuff that I now have to do in the evenings and on weekends. It has been a huge adjustment that I'm still trying to make peace with. And my writing time has taken a serious hit.
Then, six months ago my dear friend Nancy, who has always cheered me on and supported my writing dreams, passed away a few months before my book was released. The hole she left has been impossible to fill and sometimes, like last night (after I'd had a few drinks with friends to honor her), I am left breathless when I remember she really is gone. Especially when I'm in the presence of something she loved, like her family, or nature, or children, or art. Last night I was teary-eyed walking home from the local pub, across the river that she adored, down the streets of our beloved neighborhood, past her house. Thunder rolled in the distance and I dodged sporadic rain drops. The rum buckets I drank combined with missing her, and I fought back tears most of the way home. Her absence is a melancholy cloud over everything.
Now, my daughter is getting ready to head off across the country to college and, despite the fact that I've always handled the changing stages of my kids' lives pretty well, this one is throwing me for a loop. I can't imagine not having her in our house, not seeing her for months at a time. I'm excited for her and all the amazing experiences she will have, but I feel lost and sad.
There are other things -- minor health issues, hot flashes, college financing, etc. -- that have made this year a challenging one. But I keep reminding myself that I have accomplished something big, that my book will leave a permanent mark that I was here. That I did what I set out to do. That I didn't give up.
So, onward to the next. The next stage, the next book, the next agent, the next challenge. Thank you, all of you, for your part in making my dream come true.