A friend at the hospital heard I was a newly published novelist and asked me if I would be calling in too “Rich and Famous” to work soon. After all, I am on a book tour! I have just published a novel!
Published a novel?? Me?? Who would have dreamed it when I was slogging away in our grungy basement, or local coffee shops with the same fantastical self-image as any middle-aged mother who suddenly decides to reinvent themselves? Was this novelist thing any less outrageous than suddenly taking up yodeling or body piercing? I told my her that I would be happy merely to call in “Out of Debt and Keeping my Same Old Friends.”
Unanticipated as it is, it has been a bit miraculous to be on a book tour, finally holding in my own disbelieving hands the weighty, hard back product of a decade’s worth of silent musing. If I may confess it to this anonymous audience, the only event to surpass this so far is the birth of my twins. Even my wedding paled. (Sorry, sweetie!)
In my fleeting fifteen minutes of fame, I can admit that it has been glorious, and the cause of many deep and soulful blushes, but also comfortingly real. I still look in the mirror after a signing and realize I have lipstick smudged on my front tooth, and I still come home to the same piles of dirty dishes and smelly socks, and my children are thoroughly bored with the whole escapade. Surprisingly, that only makes me more certain they love me for my mediocre cooking and lung-collapsing hugs.
So I am happy to wallow in this fifteen minutes of fame, all the while recognizing that–just like Andy Warhol, the originator of that sweeping anointment–I too shall die and a million more will rise up to replace me. They are nipping at the edges of the bookstore shelves right now, ready to bump me from face-out to spine-out. But I even like that somehow. More books to read in my own future! More reason to keep writing!
In the middle of my tour I ran out of copies of Oxygen and wanted to buy some as gifts. I went to my the nearest big box bookstore, grabbed three off a table and plopped them on the counter.
“Do you have a discount card?” the perky young clerk asked. I gave her my number and she stated my name to verify. She asked for my credit card and photo ID, repeating my name each time, clearly drilled by her manager not to let any identity frauds slip through on her watch. She looked at the cover of my novel and I waited, almost shyly, for her to congratulate me on being the author. “Gee,” she said at last. “I’ve seen this book around a lot lately.” I smiled and started to thank her. Then she continued, “Do you know anything about it?”
She handed me my bag and I shook my head. “I just liked the cover.” Next time, though, I just might flip to the author photo on the flap when she asks for my ID. If I’m feeling bold.