T is for Thank You

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TBack in a past life, I was a ballerina. Only I never called myself that. No dancer uses the word “ballerina.” I sort of like the word now. There’s a lot of stuff I grasp now that I had hated in my previous life.

My entire dance career felt like a fight. That’s part of being a perfectionist. You have to keep the struggle alive. You can’t just be satisfied with something. You have to tear yourself up because you are yearning for that satisfaction and at the same time are terrified that you only have success because of your drive.

I was thinking about this today because I’m in the midst of writing all these emails to people—we’ve got a book launch party! Can you come? And just a few years ago, it would have twisted me up inside to ask people to come.

When I was dancing, sometimes I wouldn’t even come out for my bow. I could do this because many of our bows were ensemble bows and no one would have missed me except for the people on stage. Somehow I’d talk myself into a frenzy. A bow was self-indulgent. It seemed needy and insincere.

I don’t need those people’s approval, their applause. And let’s face it, they’re not clapping for me or even for us. They’re clapping because that’s what you’re supposed to do at the end of a show. Well! I for one will not participate in this farce!

I only sat out the bow once or twice. Turns out directors find that more selfish and self-indulgent than just bowing to the crowd.

I know, you’re wondering how I’m going to bring this back to the book launch party, how I can possibly justify these shameless plugs.

Part of this has to do with the fact that my identity as a person is not as a writer. I’m ok being a lousy writer or a novice writer. Or an amateurish writer. I’m also ok with the idea that someone might think I’m a pretty good writer.

I was never like that as a dancer. I wasn’t ok with the idea that anyone would think I was a lousy dancer and at the same time, I balked at the idea that I could ever be a pretty good dancer. I had to keep the fight. No wonder if felt insincere to invite someone to see me perform.

By contrast my writing isn’t about me (even though all I do is write about me!). I know the two people on staff at the NICU who ask about my writing will genuinely want to know about this book event, even if they can’t go. So I’ll invite them. I know my neighbors are curious and the moms in Chiara’s classroom are supportive, so I’ll invite them. They’ll be too busy to come or they’ll want to come but can’t or who knows, maybe they are secretly hoping I’ll fail, although I don’t attract those sort of people the way I did when I was dancing.

And none of it will have to do with me.

Here’s what I didn’t get as a dancer: that the bow is the time when the dancer is face to face with the audience as a person, not a character, and she has the opportunity to thank them. Thank you for coming. I hope you enjoyed the show. Not, “I hope you liked me.” That’s what I didn’t get.

That’s what these parties are. A chance to celebrate. To say “thank you” to the people who have supported us and “look!” to the people who have been curious. They might not be able to come. They might not be able to buy books. But that’s not the point. The point is that I can thank them and I can thank them in the invitation to the dance.

If you’d like to be thanked in person, come join us tomorrow night at Diesel Books in Oakland at 7pm. Or Sunday, April 27th at the Bookmine in Napa. Or May 4th  in Corte Madera at Book Passage. How about May 8th in San Francisco or May 17th at Copperfields in Sebastopol? (See what I did there?)

L is for “Like Me”

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LDo you like me? Will you like me? Did you like me yet? Oh, because it’s oh-so-important that you like me. On Facebook, I mean.

Because I need you to like me. All of you. Even if I don’t know you or care to hang out with you. Because if you like me (and then tell your friends to like me), then I can tell other people how many people like me and then they’ll think…

Quite frankly, I don’t know what they will think. I know what they’re supposed think. They’re supposed to be super-impressed if the number’s really high.  And then my Worth points grow in the video game of life. (Conversely, if the number’s really low, the way my number is, then they will shake their heads and pity me.)

Of course, what they should be thinking, is “Wow! You certainly know how to navigate the changing face of social media! You must be really adept at manipulating Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm!”

Or—“OMG. You must be one of those people who sends self-promotional emails with lots of exclamation points bcc-ing everyone in your inbox, e-flogging them into submission until they click the stupid thumb’s up button on the url you’ve inserted into your signature. That never works. I’m not surprised that you have such few likes.”

But you know what? I don’t care what you think about my number of Facebook likes. I don’t care if you think I’m a loser such few people have bothered to click on those links. Or if you think I’m a shameless bragster for trying to get the number higher.

I couldn’t care less what you think of me for trying to get as many people to like my Facebook page.

But I do want you to like me.

So if you wouldn’t mind clicking on this link and “liking me?” OMG, that would like, make me like, totally happy.

And if you need me to, I’ll totally like you back.

How Best Friends with College Rivalries Say Thank You

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Last year when we had our Indiegogo campaign, I wrote “Generous Souls” posts for each person I knew who donated. Here’s the post I wrote to thank Andrea Torres, my best friend and first writing partner from 7th grade, for her generous donation last year.

So when we launched our campaign this year and Andrea matched last year’s gift before I even put the word out, I thought, “I need to write another post to thank Andrea. Luckily I have so many good Andrea stories!”

But by the time I sat down to write, the Big Game had already been played. You know which “Big Game”—it’s the one best characterized by this picture

And this video.

 

You know—the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending… exciting, thrilling game in the history of college football. The one where California wins the Big Game over Stanford.

Only this year we didn’t win. More like we got crushed. And not just crushed. Our hearts and spleens and livers and kidneys were pulled out through our pores and strained and made into paleo-smoothies with genetically modified strawberries (because all smoothies taste better with strawberries and let’s face it, all strawberries are genetically modified these days) and then the Stanford team fed their strawberry-organ-meat smoothies to their ruthless fans who gulped them up with fury and frenzy. It was horrible.

(At least, that’s what I gathered from reading my Facebook feed. I haven’t watched a college football game since the third trimester of my first pregnancy–that’s seven years ago for those of you keeping track at home.)

So even though Andrea is a generous soul and she made all the family vacations from my teenaged years tolerable because she came along and she let my little sister store all her stuff in her house when my sister studied abroad for a semester. And even though she hosted our family and let us drink the fancy micro-brews she left in the fridge when my sister graduated from college and even though she’s actually thinking of flying out for the Write On Mamas book launch party and even though I didn’t even remember that the game was happening this past weekend.

Still. Once a Bear, always a Bear.

And maybe Andrea’s Stanford degree is her only character flaw, but this time of year, that’s enough.

(But that shouldn’t stop you from donating to our campaign! We’d still appreciate your help and your contribution. Even if you went to Stanford.)

It’s Indiegogo Time Again!

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Woo hoo! Write On Mamas Indiegogo-campaign time is here again!

What is Indiegogo-campaign time? Who are the Write On Mamas? you ask.

Well, who are YOU? I ask. As far as I know, the only people who even know about this blog are Write On Mamas themselves. And my mom. Who I suppose is a Write On Mamas-mama.

OK–the Write On Mamas are a group of moms who write (duh) and we’re putting together an anthology of our essays. This is where I stop trying to be funny, so listen up–last year we raised just under $8000 in our Indiegogo campaign. We used some of that money to hire a developmental editor (the awesome and fabulous Kate Hopper) and she worked personally with 25 of our authors to help them shape their essays. The rest of the money we raised will go toward the cost of designing the cover, layout, printing costs, promotion, that sort of thing. Problem is, we didn’t raise enough the first time around. We need a little more to reach our goal.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s “WOW! How can I help?”

Click here to get started. It’s fun! Delightful, even. And any pain you experience is purely psychological.

That was what you were thinking, right? Or was it, “Tell me more about your project.”

We’re writing about writing. “Writing our mothering and mothering our writing” as WoM member Allison Tierney put it.

I’m on the editorial team along with Mary Hill and Joanne Hartman. Our job is to take the essays already given the green light by Kate and to shape them into a coherent whole. What are our themes? What’s going to make the book work? Who’s our audience? (Answers TK).

Every Friday Mary, Joanne and I meet at Bittersweet Cafe in Oakland (Joanne is working her way down the hot chocolate menu). We come with our binders of the work-in-progress. Each week we look at a handful of essays. Along with light copyediting (we’ll hire a professional copyeditor to do the heavy lifting thanks to the funds we’ll get from our Indiegogo campaign HINT HINT) we look how to highlight the very best in each essay and discuss where it might fit in the anthology.

“WOW!” You’re thinking. “That’s awesome. What a great way to build community. I wish I could help. What was that number again?”

RIGHT HERE.

Now didn’t that feel good? Post a comment. Share on Facebook. Let everyone know that YOU are a rock star philanthropist. (Or share anyway and be a poseur philanthropist, that works too. Unless nobody else donates. Then it doesn’t work at all. So think about that.)

And thanks, Mom, for already answering the call!