I've never seen a "tip sheet" before. It really hit home how professional this all is. Somewhere on the sheet was listed the information that signed copies will be available for cooperating bookstores.
This is all very exciting. But it made me wonder a little bit--what, exactly, am I excited about?
I must admit--and it is not something I am proud of--that part of me is excited about the momentary and minor local fame I will probably get from the release. My high school yearbook is running a little story, and there will probably be an e-mail from the principal to the faculty about it. All of my thoughts in this regard are rather cringeworthy: the very, very, VERY minor and very, very, VERY temporary celebrity status should not be the reason for the book. If I believe in the work, and love my work, then having my picture in the local paper is immaterial.
I have no illusions about the book changing lives--I don't picture a jumper on the Canal Ship Bridge finishing the novel and climbing down from the superstructure, now determined to live out the rest of her life. But is it too much to imagine someone, somewhere, reading the book and deriving a bit of pleasure from it? I hope not.
I suppose all of this goes to the question all writers face: why do we write? There are a host of answers to this, but most of them come down to "because we have to--the stories and characters clamor for attention to be let out." Maya Angelou said it much better: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Right now, however, I am trying to answer a related but very different question: why do I need to be published?
If writers write to get the story out of their heads and onto paper, then what is the need to get that paper to other people? Stephen King said that “writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
I do feel it is hubristic of me to believe what Mr. King said. Do I imagne that Vale of Stars will enrich anyone's life? No, I don't. Hell, I barely believe anyone will read the thing. Maybe, though, there should be a little bit of hubris in a writer. Not enough to offend the gods--but enough to impress the reader.
Hey...that sounds like it