Celebrating birthdays is big in my loud, Italian family. We always celebrate with lots of food, presents, copious obnoxious rounds of singing. We’re not unlike most other families, I would assume. Birthdays are a big deal so they are to be celebrated.
We writers go just a bit further; we celebrate book birthdays. To us, a publishing date is a bit (just a teensy bit, mind you; but a bit, nonetheless) like a real, true birth. We’ve waited anxiously for the date to arrive. We’ve cried and laughed and worried over it again and again. And then the day is upon us and suddenly life before said birth (real life or otherwise), is forever changed.
I’m a mom of two so I will readily admit that while publishing a book came with its own set of aches and pains, it was nothing like the real deal of bringing a life into this world. Not to get off-track here, but my point is that births of any kind (human, animal, and yes…book) should be celebrated. And thus is why my long-winded self is yammering on about book birthdays.
Today, July 13, marks the 1 year book birthday of “Loving Emma”. This book was really the icing on the cake for me to what had been a very painful process of getting my grief down on paper; a process that began after losing my best friend to breast cancer in 2010. That experience changed me on every level that you can imagine. And once I’d managed to see through the haze of loss, I had a real “light bulb” moment. Life is short. Life is too damn short. And waiting around for that ‘perfect’ story or that ‘perfect’ moment to push myself forward and do something with the stories I’d been penning for almost 20 years, suddenly became an obsession. I wasn’t going to wait around anymore. I was going to do this – jump in feet first, no looking back. And that is how my first book, “Losing Faith”, was born.
In “Loving Emma” we see a few of the same characters from that first book, as we follow Grace’s brother Liam on his own journey of grief and recovery. “Loving Emma” closed a chapter for Grace and Liam and for me as well. And while I will never believe one truly recovers from losing someone tragically, and I will never have a single day where I don’t miss my friend, I do believe we can go on and eventually flourish again. To be honest, we really have no other choice.
So happy book birthday….to me? That sounds strange, but I would like to celebrate my baby’s big day. I might not have reached as many readers as I wanted to, but that’s okay. I’ve made new friends in Scotland and Sweden and New Jersey. I’ve had a feature piece written about me by an amazing gal named Karis Rogerson. So you know what? I’m not doing half bad. And that, my friends, like any birthday, is to be celebrated. -AJ