You guys! I’m in a BOOK! And yes the capital letters there make it look like I’m yelling. THAT’S BECAUSE I AM!
I AM IN A REAL-LIFE MADE-FROM-PAPER WITH-WORDS-ON-THE-PAGES BOOK!
Ahem. Sorry. I’ll try to control myself. But did you hear? I’m in a BOOK!
Ok, it’s seriously (mostly) out of my system now. You have to understand, I have been a voracious reader for most of my life. When I was a kid, we’d go to the library as a family, and each of us would take out a huge stack of books. It was a point of pride that I read every Doctor Who Target novelization from the Muskego Public Library—as well as everything in the young adult section. And then I moved on to the grown-up science fiction section before I was even in High School. I am a Reader.* It’s part of my basic makeup. In a way, I see books as magical, sacred objects. So much of my upbringing centered around them, it’s hard to imagine my life without books.
Anyway, that might give you an idea why the thought of being in one is so mind-boggling to me. It’s kind of like when Verity! was nominated for a Hugo Award. (That still hasn’t sunk in as a thing that actually happened.) There’s this magical world of scifi and fantasy and books, and it’s totally “other”, and suddenly I’m plunged right into the middle of it.
Ok. Let’s shove this silly wide-eyed-novice act** out of the way now. Even if I was an accomplished writer with dozens of credits to my name, I would be honored-and-then-some to be part of this project. The book, Companion Piece: Women Celebrate the Humans, Aliens and Tin Dogs of Doctor Who, not only covers one of my favorite subjects, Doctor Who, but it includes (and is edited by) some of the most talented women I know (and many talented women I don’t know). I am in august company and am well aware of the fact. I shall try not to spill anything on myself at the fancy release party*** and thus betray what an unproven tyro I am.
Because I am a tyro. And honestly, there’s no shame in that. Everybody starts somewhere. Not everyone waits until they’re in their fourth decade to let their scribblings see the light of day, but some of us do. To be fair, I did write this essay, “We, Robots” (about the Doctor’s mechanical companions), almost two years ago. (Publishing can be a long process!) I’m happy to say two things about my essay. 1) I am incredibly proud of it. And 2) I have come a long way as a writer in these last two years.
One of the most happily mature moments I’ve ever had was reading the proof of my essay and seeing all the (many) things I would do differently if I wrote it today. Now wait—that in itself isn’t what made me happy. What pleased me was my reaction to the many things I spotted. I wasn’t kicking myself for being a lesser writer in the past. I wasn’t panicking because people are going to read this and ohmigod they’ll think I’m a lunkhead! Nope. I was smiling at past-E. Saying to her, “Good try you youngin’ you! You put together something you were proud of, and you were right to be.”
Instead of looking at my past mistakes—no, not mistakes, just different choices. Instead of looking at the different choices I’d made and focusing on how they’re unfortunate, my gut reaction was to think about what I’d do differently now, and be proud of myself for growing so much. The fact that I can now see a better way to do things is a positive! It’s a sign I’ve grown, and growth is good.
With any luck, if I keep at it, I’ll look back at the stuff I’m writing now and say “Nice try kid, but just wait until you get to be me!”
To heap pride upon pride, I’m also proud of myself for growing to the point where this is my default–where looking at the shiny side of the coin is second nature.° I spent a lot of years focusing on the negative stuff, and I found that negativity breeds negativity. Turns out the flip side is that positivity creates more of the same. But I’m digressing here. The real point is:
I’m in a BOOK!
*For more on this, see the post I put up last Friday –which was actually written weeks ago and then somehow fell by the wayside.
**Totally not an act.
***I don’t believe there’s an actual fancy release party. I’m speaking figuratively here. The party is likely to be on Twitter, as many of the best parties these days are.
°I’m holding back from a glass-half-full reference here. No need to overdo it on the platitudes. Brevity is the soul of wit, after all.