I told her Kate DiCamillo was on my Facebook feed, and she assumed that meant we were friends. We’re not, of course, in the traditional sense. We’ve never met up for coffee, and she doesn't text, “It’s been too long. Let’s get together soon.” Actually, we’re not friends in the social media sense either. I like her writer’s page, along with 40,000 other people, but what do eight-year olds know of such things?
They’d just read DiCamillo’s book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, in her classroom at school. It captivated her, and she started making plans to read all of DiCamillo’s books. That’s about the time she found out her mom, the writer, knew Kate DiCamillo.
In this very same conversation, she said,
“When you get your book, people will know you too, and maybe you’ll be famous.”
When she said these words, there wasn’t a hint of a question in her voice. Obviously, she’d heard about me writing a book, although I don’t talk about it that much, in case it doesn’t ever happen. At least then it stays my secret. To her, it wasn't if, but when.
I could have told her what I’ve learned so far. Blogging is the easy part. That’s the part she sees - her mom writes articles, and people read them. She doesn’t know about the hard parts. My platform numbers need to grow. I save all the motivational articles I can find coaching a writer to do the work - write even when you don’t feel like it, look at writing as a discipline, realize there will be lots of rejection letters before the right agent sees your work (while I’m still anxiously awaiting even a rejection letter). When it comes to most of this, I have no idea what I'm doing. Proposals, query letters, revisions. This is really hard, solitary work. My book manuscript is finished, but I have no idea if there will ever be any more to my story than that.
How do you explain all that to a girl who thinks you’re friends with Kate DiCamillo?
You don’t. Instead, you resolve to work harder. My daughter thinks I’m going to have a book published. She’s watching me. If I persevere; bust my butt revising, figure out new ways to get my work in front of people, and continue learning about the publishing process, I just might break through. My daughter could learn a mighty valuable lesson about sticking-with-it-ness. That’s enough motivation for me to keep going at this for quite some time.
Our daughter started basketball recently. She’s one of the shortest girls in the gym on Saturday mornings. Other than her rather cute stage at 18 months, when she had an obsession with every “ball” she would spy, the girl’s never really touched a basketball. They have the third graders in with fourth graders, so most of the girls have her beat in the experience field (I mean court). We’ve gone to practice two weekends in a row, and she’s yet to make a basket. It’s frustrating the heck out of her, and it’s breaking my mama heart. Every time I see her lob that huge orange ball towards the square made of white tape (or is it paint), framing the basketball net way up high, I hold my breath, praying for it to fall in. So far, it hasn’t.
She learns how to do hard things from watching me, and honestly, I’m not very good at it. I’m learning though. If you want something bad enough, it takes work. You have to get comfortable with staring awkward in the face. It’s the only way to learn a skill, whether you’re writing a book, shooting a basket, or fill in your blank.