How to Make an Author Happy

For most of my life, I derived pleasure from being able to read a book cover to cover keeping the spine in pristine condition. I loved that when I finished reading, it still looked brand new. No wrinkled pages. Not one crease on the spine. No highlights or notes in the margins. Beautiful. Once in college, which became the last time because of this incident, I loaned a book to a friend. It was Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale (oh so 90s!). She loved the book. I mean REALLY loved the book! She loved it so much that when she returned it to me, it looked like it had been through hard times. The crinkled cover was worse than discarded construction paper during a kindergarten art class.  The perfect bound spine was bent to the point where it barely held the pages of the book securely. I was PISSED OFF!!! I could not believe that someone had the audacity to both disrespect the book and to disrespect this book as my property. I will also admit that for someone I thought was cultured and brilliant, I began to see her as a bit of a neanderthal. I mean really! Who destroys a book just to read it? Is this overboard? Yes. But my description pales in comparison to the depth of the anger I felt.

I was angry because all of my life I had a respect for books, even textbooks. I revered them. Now, as an author, I question that position. There were books that I loved. But did I truly experience them? Did I get as lost inside them as much as I could have had I not been thinking about the book itself? Was I truly as focused on losing myself in the words as I thought I was?

One of my readers (full disclosure, a reader that’s known me half my life, also a college friend), sent me a picture of a marked up page from my book. Writing in a book is something that I would NEVER do. However, there was something about seeing MY book, that I wrote, marked up that brought me immense joy. It made me HAPPY. It showed me that she was not only reading, she was digesting it. She was experiencing it. We were having a conversation: my words and her reactions created an entirely new reality. I loved seeing it. Over the past month, hearing people quote my book back to me in conversation has been an unexpected joy. Sometimes they quote passages I barely remember. That’s fun.  Receiving this image of a marked up page was special. It’s a reminder of why I labored over this process in the first place. It reminded me of why I cared so much about every detail. It reassured me, that despite all of my doubts (and I’m the person who literally wrote Self Doubt is Not a Friend, page 27), this book and this work is good enough. Not just good enough, it’s good, period. Full stop. The biggest compliment thus far is that more than one person has already asked about book two. Slow down people. Let me enjoy this one first.

So, want to make the author of this book happy? Dive in each page. Mark it up, write in it. Yell at it. Fold it until it feels good in your hands while you curl into your most comfortable reading position. Interact with it. And share it with your friends. I want you to enjoy my book. I want you to experience my journey and see yours in it too. And for the first time it my life, I don’t care if you wrinkle a page in the process.

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