I spent Tuesday telling you what you already know (about me, about my books, and about my publishing company). I figured maybe I should make up for that by spending today sharing some news.
You might’ve already gotten a hint at some of it if you follow me on Twitter. This morning I posted:
My most recent life discovery: Homecoming is a lot more fun when you’ve got accomplishments to brag about.
That thought crossed my mind last Saturday morning, but it took this long for me to find the time to Tweet it. Yeah. It’s been a busy week.
Probably the most exciting news comes from a Homecoming event last Friday night, when my alma mater‘s various colleges each selected an outstanding graduate to honor. The College of Language and Literature chose me.
I gave them some bullet points about my accomplishments in the last year (leaning heavy on the big sales of Taming Fire), then set aside some time on my Friday afternoon and dragged Trish along for what I was sure would be a pretty small, boring event. And it certainly wasn’t huge, but it turned out to be a lot more prestigious than I’d realized.
Some of the other honorees were working as Director of Engineering for the Water4 Foundation, or newly-promoted to head up all promotions at McDonalds nationwide, and many were distinguished professors within their fields.
I was the only person there in jeans.
But I forgot all about that when my friend and former professor Gail Nash stepped up to the mic and started describing my accomplishments. She’d rewritten my bullet points into a glowing bio, and while she mentioned my sales record (and that got me some congratulations and handshakes afterward), she spent most of her time talking about the work I’ve done teaching. And coaching other writers. And building a publishing company that can help others take advantage of these amazing new opportunities for writers, too.
I don’t spend a lot of time feeling proud of myself, but…well, Friday night was a good night. And then after the presentations were over and we were milling about, one of the professors came over to shake my hand and said, “It’s great to meet you. My daughter’s been reading your books and loving them. She’ll be so excited to hear your went to school here!”
That last sentence blew my mind. I hear about a lot of friends of family of friends who’re reading my books. And I know there are quite a lot of strangers reading my books. But this is probably the first time the two have overlapped–when I encountered someone who already knew my name because her daughter had happened across my book entirely on her own.
I felt like a superstar.
Still, it wasn’t until Saturday morning that I had my great new insight. See, every year at Homecoming the Honors group has a reunion breakfast on Saturday morning. It’s always pretty packed, and I usually go grudgingly if I go at all. This year, I was looking forward to it.
I wasn’t sure why, but I found myself wondering if it was happening and hoping I could make the time (which has really never happened before). It wasn’t until I got there and I was shaking hands with an old classmate I hadn’t seen in years and he asked, “What have you been up to?” that I realized what it was.
I had an answer. It’s not that I was going to gloat (my old classmates have done some awfully impressive things themselves). It’s not that I was even going to brag. It’s mainly that I’ve spent the last ten years being a responsible adult, paying my bills and holding down a job, and really not doing anything I cared about.
I was entirely successful as a productive member of society, and utterly boring. I didn’t like talking about it. I’ve spent ten years trying to avoid talking about my work, and suddenly, for the first time, I have something to brag about. Not about me, but about the project I get to be a part of, the vision I get to help create.
And I got to talk about it a little more yesterday. In the break between my classes at OU, I sat down for an interview with a writer who works for World Literature Today, a lit. review magazine published at the university. He wanted to discuss the impact of digital media on artists and writers in today’s market.
I spent more than an hour sharing my experiences in digital publishing and the things I’ve learned in my research. We talked about the shortcomings of traditional publishing, the tyranny of expensive production, the extraordinary opportunity (and incumbent responsibilities) for today’s artists, and we talked about everything I hope to do with the Consortium.
It’s an exciting time to be alive. It’s an exciting time to be an artist. And it’s an exciting time to be me.
I hope this post doesn’t come across as arrogant or self-important. I really find it all a little bit baffling and a whole lot amazing, and I wanted to share some of that with you, because you absolutely helped make it happen. Thank you.
Now I’ll get back to work.