And Then You’re Holding a Copy of Your First Book

It happens to all of us. Some mornings I wake and immediately shake my head. It’s because before I begin the day, I’m already physically or emotionally exhausted, and I wonder how I’ll do it. How will I get through my to-do list when I already feel so tired and overwhelmed?  I teach creative writing full-time. I’m a writer with a book that’s just been released and a manuscript I’m in the process of editing. I have three young children—twin five year olds and a four-year old.

The day I finally received my book in print for the first time was on a day like the one I described above. I’d began the day feeling out of sorts.  I didn’t bother with make-up or ironing what I wore. It was a “survival day”—about just getting through.

When I arrived home at the end of the work day, I saw a box on my front step with my name on it and I knew it was the book. I took the box upstairs and set it on the kitchen table before pulling out a chair to sit in. I looked at the box, but I couldn’t open it. My husband waited, standing expectantly in the doorway of the kitchen. He wanted to see me open it. After a few minutes, I told him I couldn’t. I told him I’d wait until the next day. I wanted to feel really good whenever I opened it. I wanted to be wearing an outfit I felt confident in. I wanted my hair actually done and not slept on.

Writing Mend, my debut collection of historical persona poetry, was a six-year process. I began writing it in 2011, before I had children. Writing this book accompanied me through a high-risk twin pregnancy, my twins’ NICU stay, (which was the toughest thing I’ve experienced), my grandmother’s death, my 18-year-old first cousin’s death, the death of my only maternal aunt, and the birth of my third daughter. No wonder that the book is about women and for women. No wonder that it reverences our voices and experiences.

After I told my husband I wouldn’t open the box, I stayed at the kitchen table, trying to collect myself. I didn’t know I was looking down at the floor until my youngest daughter (my 4-year-old, Maya) knelt in front of me and looked up into my eyes. I immediately straightened my body and sat up. I didn’t want her to see me that way. She walked over to the other side of the table and picked up the box. She held it out to me. I took it from her. She walked to the counter and picked up a pair of scissors and brought them to me. She looked into my eyes steadily, without saying anything. I decided to open the box.

After I cut the box open, she pulled apart the flaps, and I placed my hand inside, feeling the matte-glossy cover, noticing the title and my name stretched in black across the front. The book felt like the embodiment of so much I’d worked for—for years. I deserved this moment. It was here. I was here.

 

I’m having a book release party and reading for Mend, and if you are in the Birmingham area on November 2nd, I’d love to see you there. It will be held at the Alabama School of Fine Arts at 6:30pm. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP here.

If you won’t make it but want to your own copy of Mend, click here

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3 thoughts on “And Then You’re Holding a Copy of Your First Book

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