One year ago today I was waiting for the release of my book Illegally Blonde. I wrote a blog post on the day before the release where I wrote these words
... for now I am taking a deep breath, being a bit more reflective of what this not insignificant event means and what it might - or might not - change in my life. It may not change anything in my future at all, really. But even if it doesn't I know what has led up to it has already changed me. Writing and publishing a book has opened my life up in so many different ways. I've met so many new and interesting people I'd never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. I'm already changed, I hope, for the better. And because of that, I think I owe it to myself to reflect a little this week. To dream a little bit about the future but mostly, to appreciate my incredible good fortune on having gotten this far and understanding how special this moment really is. The past informs our future and while we can't live in it we must surely appreciate what has happened to us to get us here and to keep us going in the future. So tomorrow, when the book is officially 'out' I may just be sitting quietly at home, not doing anything much beyond spending time with my kids and husband and thinking to myself: Nelsa, you're a very, very lucky girl.
So then I was looking to the future and now I'm looking into the past and, let me tell you, it's a very interesting view. Why?
Because one year ago today I had no clue that right after my book was released my mom would be diagnosed with breast cancer. I had no idea that the stress and anxiety of planning and having a book launch would pale into insignificance when measured against the stress and anxiety about to invade my personal life for the next nine months. It was a surreal summer of celebrating a huge achievement in my writing life and also waiting with dread to hear whether my mom's cancer had spread. On one day I'd find my book was a recommended read in the Canadian Children's Book News magazine summer issue and the next day I'd be sitting in a waiting room waiting for my mom's surgery to be over. To say I was feeling exceptionally strung out would be a major understatement. Then add to that minor details like moving out of our home and my baby girl leaving for university and it's no wonder that my writing last year became something like the runt in a litter of puppies. There and still important but unfortunately neglected due to all the other stronger pups vying for the mother's limited attention.
But now, looking back on that surreal year, I think all that happened because the universe was trying to tell me that for every goal that you set for yourself and that you believe is the reason behind your life here on earth, for every mountain you think you need to climb, you need to remember that no goal is so important that it overshadows all the other stuff happening in your life. So, to all my fellow writers out there, indulge me a bit in my retrospective look back on a most momentous year and forgive me for giving some unasked for and maybe un-needed advice in the next few sentences. But if you can, please, please always remember this:
Your LIFE is about more than getting a book published. Your LIFE is joy, trauma, headaches, laughter, work, friendships, children, parents, school, vacation, bills, watching TV, walking the dog, cooking, cleaning, reading with your kid, picking out shoes with your daughters, crying, hugging your husband/boyfriend, taking a nap, going to every freaking cold hockey arena in the city to watch your kid play a game you still don't quite understand, taking your child to the dentist/doctor/optometrist, having lunch/dinner with a girlfriend, watching your mother cry with worry, sending texts to your brother, screaming in your car, singing Kanye West songs with your kids, painting a shed, writing in your journal, doing laundry, blubbering at Toy Story 3, going to the hairdresser, venting with a friend, having a glass of wine (or two), looking up at the sky and thanking God your mother is cancer free now.
So, yes, I achieved one goal by getting my book published. Yes, I'm very proud of that. But I'd throw it away in a second if I could have prevented my mom from having to go through her cancer scare last year. She made it through. I still have both my parents. I have my children and husband with me. What have I learned in the year since I became a published author?
I'm still one very, very lucky girl.