Last week my husband discovered that a local Barnes & Noble ordered 2 copies of Hands Off My Food! By Thursday, one of the copies had already sold. So, we drove to the Barnes & Noble on Saturday to take a picture of the remaining book on the shelf.
It was an amazing feeling to walk through the bookstore looking for my book with my husband and children. It was as though we were on a family treasure hunt. When I finally found the book, I yelled out, “I found it!” Just then, the whole family came running over to me. My 7-year old pulled the book from the shelf and, in a voice of disbelief, said, “Whoa. It’s your book.” Then my 3-year old yelled out, “Mommy’s book!” It was such a warm and surreal feeling.
I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was a little girl. It was the first big dream I had. I remember running up to my father and declaring, with a childlike enthusiasm and fearlessness, “I know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a writer.” My father’s response was, “No daughter of mine is going to be a starving artist.”
I internalized his comment to mean that I wasn’t good enough to be a writer. So, I put my dream on the back burner. I did tap into it now and then when I was asked to write a paper or a creative story in school. But, for the most part, I lived with the belief that my writing wasn’t good enough to be shared. It was supposed to be kept to myself – where it was protected from criticism and disappointment.
Now that I’m older and I’m a parent, I realize that my father was protecting me. He simply wanted what’s best for me. He wanted me to have a good life and not to struggle, if at all possible. He wanted to set me up for success. And, he was right. Most writers never “make it big” or earn enough money to make a living by following their dream.
Seeing my book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, one of the largest book store chains in America, got me thinking that maybe I am good enough to write. I certainly enjoy writing. It relaxes me. It’s my way of being heard, but it can also provide a temporary escape.
Regardless, I’m grateful for the way it all turned out. I now realize that I didn’t have to give up on my dream. I was meant to put it on the back burner – for a season. And now, the season has changed, and I’m free to write when I’m inspired instead of forcing myself to write in order to earn a pay check.
Thank you Dad!
The reason Hands Off My Food! made it into Barnes & Noble is because of my husband. He encouraged me to chase my dream; to take a chance on myself. Most importantly, he inspired me to be fearless, once again.
Before leaving Barnes & Noble, I signed the remaining copy of the book. I wanted to leave a “surprise” for the person who finds it. A Barnes & Noble staff member even put a sticker on the book that says, “Autographed Copy.” I think I provided comic relief for the staff that day. I bounced around the bookstore, bursting with the same level of excitement that I had on that fateful day when I ran up to my father as a child and professed my dream. In fact, one staff member commented, “This must be your first book.” I responded, “How did you know?” : )
Before we left the bookstore, I said good-bye to the book. I know it sounds strange, but I felt funny leaving the book on the shelf. It was as though I was leaving a piece of myself behind. That moment was a reminder that I can no longer protect the book. It’s no longer just words on my computer, or sheets of paper on my desk. Hands Off My Food! is in the public domain, growing up and growing wings of its own.
Perhaps it’s time for me to let it go. After all, it can’t fly with an anchor.
As we walked out of the bookstore, I thanked God for this opportunity. I thanked God for every step along the way in this journey, even the most challenging and disappointing steps. I thanked God for helping the book grown wings, and for showing me that it’s not too late to grow my own wings so that I can learn to fly, once again.
It ended up being a good thing that we took pictures of the book on Saturday because, as of last night, the last copy of the book had sold. Yeah!