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Monday, January 2, 2012

Redefining Goals Doesn't Equal Defeat

After an entire month of listening (almost) exclusively to Christmas music, I returned to pop radio. And didn't recognize half of the songs I heard. In just one month, the ones that played over and over on the radio in November seemed to have vanished. Even Lady Gaga had cycled and was now crooning about marrying the night (whatever that means). I'm sure in a few days, the repetition that is radio will have burned the lyrics into my mind. But for now, I just hum along. So this got me thinking about society's insatiable craving for newer and better. How "Born This Way" has been kicked off the playlist, "American Idol" is being trounced by "The X Factor," and "The Twilight Saga" is tired (look out Hunger Games!!). Flared jeans, skinny jeans. Converse, Toms. iPhone, iPhone 3, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPad and iPad 2. Blockbuster fell prey to Netflix, which is now falling prey to Hulu. We want--expect--the newest, shiniest thing. When Apple launches a product, they have to put velvet ropes outside their stores.

As I've mentioned before, I've embraced the e-reader as a two-sided coin. I love books. The way they smell. The way they feel in your hand. That noise they make when you crack the spine for the first time. Being able to pass it along to a friend without caring if you ever see it again because you want them to experience the world you fell into when you read it. As a writer, I mourned the closing of Borders this year. Borders! Who's next? Barnes & Noble? Probably not. Barnes & Noble has its Nook, which it sells in its stores. You can also download books while in B&N, so even if you show up to drink the coffee and peruse the latest titles to decide which ones to download to your e-reader, you're in the store. Spending money. And will most likely buy something on impulse. The winding checkout line now resembles a grocery store. "Bargain" books for $5, magazines, cutesy gifts, cards, candy, and CD's (as if, but that's another post). Don't get me started on the toy store that exploded in front of the entrance to the children's book section. You can't even get your little one to the back to sit in Pooh's corner and thumb through a book without walking through a mini Toys-R-Us!

When I began the journey of trying to get "The Beauty of Grace" published, my vision was different. I pictured success only as being able to walk into a bookstore and see it on a shelf. A hardback with a beautiful jacket, then converted to the soft paperback sitting in turnstiles in the airport--begging to be read. Success meant paper. It meant an agent, a publisher, and an advance. Validation by the industry that my work warranted resources.

But my vision is changing. Because it really isn't about my ego or a need for professional validation. It's about the story that possessed me. That I had to write. "The Beauty of Grace" is a novel. The title character, Grace, has Huntington's Disease, which is neuro-degenerative disorder. Someone with Huntington's succumbs to severe tremors, physical debilitation, and dementia. All with an early onset. In the primes of their lives. I wrote the story not because I know someone with Huntington's (although I did exhaustive research on the disease). But because my mother has Frontal-temporal dementia. She's only 63 and she lives in a nursing home unable to care for herself at all. She doesn't speak, rarely opens her eyes, must be fed, clothed, diapered, and tucked into bed. She can't even hold a glass to her lips anymore. I wrote "The Beauty of Grace" cathartically. I needed to deal with my questions and issues surrounding quality of life.

So is seeing it in Barnes and Noble really the goal? Or is it that people read my work and think about these issues, too? Discuss them. Empathize with those going through them. Care about them. Is the point to stroke my own ego or is it to reach people? The answer seems obvious now. In 2012, I want to share "Grace" with you, even if only in an e-format. I may never hold a hard-copy in my hand or see my name on the New York Times' Bestseller's List, but if I touch one heart. If I get one email saying I effected change, then I'll find my pride and validation in that.

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