by Judy Merrill Larsen
Hello! First off, I'm loving all the fabulous book recommendations and I have two to add to your already tottering TBR piles . . . Lynne Griffin's beautiful Sea Escape (and if you haven't picked up her debut Life Without Summer, grab that one too!) and Anna Quindlen's Every Last One. All three of these books will make you smile, cry, and feel like you understand yourself a little bit more. They deal with families, heartbreak, loss and love and when you turn the last page you'll wish you could start all over.
When I was writing my first book, All the Numbers, I had no idea of all the things that I didn't know. I mean, thanks to my kids, I knew that I was completely clueless about many things, but the whole world of being a published author was still a mystery to me. I laugh now when I compare what I thought it would be like to the reality.
Before the book came out, I dreamed about finally meeting Oprah (still waiting on that call), wondered if the Today Show set would look bigger or smaller than it does on my TV when I was sitting there dishing about my book with Meredith Viera (yeah, I still can't answer that one), and hoped I'd be all cool and collected when I spotted someone reading my book on an airplane (that skill hasn't yet been tested).
But, I could also have never imagined how amazing it is to have readers e-mail me and tell me how much my book meant to them. To have complete strangers show up at a book signing/reading and want to meet me (and to know my mom didn't pull them in off the streets). I remember when my editor told me what the first print run was going to be, I panicked thinking, "Ohmygod, I don't know that many people!"
It's so much more than I ever imagined.
Fast forward to working on my next book . . . and, in the same way that after you have one baby you think (wrongly) hey, how much harder could another one be? And of course, that next baby, along with stealing your heart in ways you never imagined because you absolutely adore the first one, also lets you know, from Day One, that he has no intention of doing ANYTHING the way his big brother does it, so you are a brand new mom all over again . . . here are some things I've learned this time around:
~what you think will be your next book often isn't.
~then, what you are sure will be your next book, sometimes still isn't.
~but then, after you've ranted and raved to your author buddies (who you never would have gotten to know without that first book) and cried to your husband (who knows enough to just listen and pour you more wine), you suck it up and open your laptop and start AGAIN with Page One and discover that maybe you can write another book.
and one more thing you learn . . . is how to knit.
You see, in this next book, one of my characters knits. So, last winter I signed up for a beginning knitting class. I wanted to know what I was talking about. I didn't expect to love it as much as I do. Two felted purses, three scarves, and one hat later (along with several in progress projects), I am a bona fide knitter (my husband might say obsessed, but he'd be wrong. Sort of.). It's incredibly relaxing. Kind of zen-like for me. Without this particular character, I might never have learned to knit. It's so cool to get something from a book I'm writing. It has me thinking that perhaps my next book needs to have a character who goes to a tiny Tuscan village to learn to make pasta. Or maybe a little town in the South of France to learn anything. Just an idea . . .
Anyway, back to reality (which is highly overrated these days). It's really neat to learn new things even at age fifty (Eek.). Next up, I think, is learning to make artisan breads. Oh, and I want to dust off my piano and start playing it again. These things might come in handy for a character someday, but even if they don't, I'll be able to smell bread cooking while I play some sonatas with a handknit scarf wrapped around my neck to keep me warm.
So, what have you learned lately? What's on your "to learn" list? I'm convinced everyone should have one . . .
I live in St. Louis, MO with my husband, am the mom/stepmom to five kids (ages 17-25), and taught high school English for 15 years. I'm over on Facebook and am always eager to make new friends, too!