Monday, April 21, 2008

Quel Surprise!

It is the eve of my book’s release. It’s hard to resist the desire to feel like my life will change in an instant, the minute the book hits the shelves. I know this isn’t the case, yet I yearn for it to be true. Not that there is anything wrong with my life. It’s just great the way it is. But somehow the promise of something new and exciting and glamorous and unexpected at almost forty years old, holds unfathomable appeal.

Surprises are things of the past at this age. I know what my Christmas presents will be (a few books from my husband, a sweater or purse from my mom); I know - basically - what I’m going to do everyday (go to work, get myself tired and just a tad frustrated, have dinner with my family, go to bed); I know both of my kids will be - are - boys; I know who I’m going to lie down next to each night (my husband), even on a weekend when I get really drunk; and I generally know what’s going to happen every Saturday evening (dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, Suze Orman on TV – God I really am boring! - and some of that lying down next to my husband) no matter how much I imbibe.

No getting into the college of my choice, no beautiful unknown boys to flirt with, no "he called me! we're going out Saturday!", no unplanned Sunday morning wobbly walk of shame in shiny satin/sequins/too high heels, to be met at home by my roommates who want all the tawdry, kind of romantic and very surprising details about a night I kind of only half remember.

In middle age, the only surprises I can expect are the not-so-desirable kind. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this. It's -------." Fill in the blank. "It's cancer." "It's incurable." "It's the woman next door and I'm in love with her."

But now, something truly surprising - and good - could actually happen. Rationally, I know it will all be relatively tame: the book will go on sale, I’ll do a few readings, I’ll do some media, and it will be a bit frenzied and chaotic for a time. I’ll sell a few books – not that many – and I’ll go back to my regular old life as the Senior Director of Wholesale Strategy at Levi’s (that really does sound boring. What does that even mean!?)

Still, unlikely as it may be, this book could create a change in my life heretofore never conjured. I could sell not a few books, but A LOT of books. I could become a best-selling writer. I could become a media pundit asked to speak on the abuses and dangers endured by athletes the world over! I could write magazine articles, and newspaper pieces, and appear on radio shows talking about how awful it is that so many athletes take steroids, but “is it surprising, really, when this culture of ours prioritizes winning above all else? What can we expect, really?”

It’s like dreaming of winning the lottery, which I’ve never actually played. But it isn’t money that would be won, rather a new life - a writer’s life - more valuable to me than currency.

And, come to think of it, I suppose I can say this writer’s life is mine already. I derive pride and satisfaction from seeing my words on a page even if no one else reads them. My knack for perseverance assures me that I will write other books, even if no one publishes them. And I will write short pieces. They may appear only here, on my un-read blog, the equivalent of a slightly better version of a junior high schooler’s diary. But I will write them.

In the end, I’ve already happened upon my surprise. A hard-won unexpected treat, backed by toil rather than a dollar at the convenience store. I’ve won this writer’s life. It’s a glorious mid-life nugget. I will honor it with the reverence it deserves. Before my next surprise, of the "I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you..." variety.

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