In just four days, Permanent Marker: A Memoir, will have its two-month anniversary of being out there in the world.
I’m happy to report that, overall, it has gotten rave reviews, and if you don’t believe me—but you should—just check out Goodreads or Amazon (where we finally made it past the 50 mark—wahoo!). The most surprising reaction I’ve gotten has been the few (like two or three) who simply said, “So how’s it feel to have put that out there for the world to read?” I don’t suppose I’m necessarily hoping that everyone glows about the book, but to think I’ve been keeping a bunch of secrets has been curious to me.
Perhaps it’s because for 26 years, and most recently during the time I studied writing for my Master’s, I’ve come to see writing as a process for thinking things through—for trying out ideas to see where they go, how they can be useful, or what those ideas might tell me about whatever it is I’m thinking about. Can writing be a confession? Of course it can. But even so, most people don’t have confessions published. What gets published has been revised, rewritten, reworked, and edited so many times, that I would guess it no longer fits into the category of secret or confession for the writer any longer, having been so manipulated that it’s lost its “Ohmygod-I’m-putting-this-out-there-in-the-world” feel.
Now that doesn’t mean it’s not scary to have the world—albeit small, in my case—reading your heart and soul, ready to critique and judge and split hairs over words you’ve strung together and read and re-read a GAZILLION times through. It’s more than scary, I assure you. But it’s also gratifying and humbling and amazing to share a story that you hope can help even just one person. And that happened, too, thankfully. At least two women have thanked me for telling a story that shared their feelings in divorce; one even thanked me, because she had never even considered her exes or children’s feelings as I tried to do.
So, anyway, moving forward, I have a few irons in the fire for getting it out into the hands of more book clubs (although Oprah’s is slightly out of reach), which is exciting, mostly because I teach. And leading discussions about something read by an entire group counts among my areas of expertise. Okay, area, singular. Correction.
And next week, I tackle my second ever key note address: the first, six years ago, was for the Pennsylvania Student Education Association, to inspire young, ready-to-go-out-and-teach-the-world newbie teachers. This address, for the American Society of Journalists and Authors is proving to be much more daunting than the first, as I’ve been both a journalism and writing TEACHER for years…but I’m only new in the trenches of actually doing so.
I’ve decided to go and do what I do best: Make fun of myself. Mention Ricky Martin for a chuckle or two. And teach.
New York City, here I come.
(Might the Puerto Rican God of Latin Pop be in town, too? Just wondering.)