This morning, about an hour before I was scheduled to sign copies of Persona Non Grata at the AJC Decatur Book Festival, I was in an utter panic. The festival had been open about an hour, and not one copy of PNG had sold. Everywhere I looked, I saw older women and hipster, urban couples with their jogging strollers—not my demographic.
Queen Frostine texted me just then:
Good luck today. *hug*
I'm in a panic
No worries. This will be brilliant.
No. It'll be sad. No one will buy it and I'll sit there for 10 minutes doing nothing. That's how I expect it to go.
I don't want to do it.
She called me immediately. I was on the verge of tears, pacing an alley behind the courthouse. She reminded me that I could do this, that the worst thing that happened was no one came and I just sat there for ten minutes. It wouldn't be the end of the world.
Hot Pocket and Growler chimed in via Facebook Messenger.
Me: I just hung up with Frostine. In utter panic about this and don't want to do it. I will but am flaking out.
HP: What, the signing? Your book is awesome! You can do this!
You are glittery goodness and not a wallflower.
Tell people about your book, like you would tell me.
G: Sass. You will be fine. I have made it through DAYS of book signings selling next to nothing and paying for my space. You can do it for minutes.
I panic, too. All writers do. You are not special.
I sucked it up, checked in at the Emerging Writers Pavilion, and then went and took my seat. I was immediately joined by another writer. She was tiny (at least compared to me), with short, dark hair that curled into a deep purple flame above her forehead. Nose ring and skull-and-crossbones earrings. Exactly the kind of woman I would like to hang out with under any circumstances.
She introduced herself, and we started talking about what we write. I must confess that I probably hogged way too much of the conversation. But this writer, I. R. Harris, told me to remember what I had written and why, that my voice is able to reach women who often feel left out of contemporary fiction.
"Besides, you wrote a book! Lots of people say that want to do it and never do. You did this!"
Then a friend from Facebook came up to the table. I'd never met him (nor his lovely wife) face-to-face. He was there to see me and get a signed copy.
All of this was exactly what I needed today.
There were a dozen little signs throughout the day that helped to cement some choices I had to make about the next couple of months. It still means a lot of work is directly in front of me, but it also tells me that I know which path to forge and to trust in that.
I received unexpected wisdom and encouragement from friends and strangers when I needed it most. When there are impossibly difficult moments and I want to just crawl in bed and never come out, there is always something that is put in front of me, to remind me again of not only who I'm supposed to be but who I am. Even when this life is at its hardest, I am thankful to have been given the strength and opportunity to live it as fully as I am willing and able. I am fortunate and appreciative, even when I'm scared to death and so afraid that I will fail again or look like a fool.
So for every little bit of goodness that was granted to me today, thank you. I am humbled by the lessons I have learned and the serendipity that is a regular part of my crazy life.
I am a lucky, lucky girl.