You could say I learned a lesson today, one many of you will probably have a good laugh over but one which could also save you a ton of embarrassment. Trust me. Here’s how it all went down.
So, this is week 6 of my medical leave from work. You could say I have adapted to home life. I like comfort, pajamas, fuzzy socks and drinking coffee in the afternoon. And it’s Friday, the best day of the workweek, so I decided to take it easy. In my defense, I did do some chores in between watching the rest of Season Two of V (which is a great show, and how dare they end the series on a cliffhanger like that!?) Um…anyway, 3:30 comes around and I had to pick up the kids from school.
Like I said, I took it easy today. As in, staying in my Lazy-Ass-Comfy-Clothes, and the last thing I wanted was to change into Decent-Well-Fitting-Constricting Clothes for 20 minutes only to change back once I returned home. For the visual ones out there reading this, today’s attire featured 15-year-old karate pants, a t-shirt and a sweater, all of it covered in cat and dog hair. Yeah, sexy, I know. But I figured, “I’ll drive to school, stay in the car and when the kids appear, I’ll wave. No one will see me, I won’t have to talk to anyone and I can make a clean getaway.”
15 minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot and found a great spot where I could see the door where the kids come out. All I had to do was wave and Voilà! The kids would see me and come running…
Until I remembered that the teacher who comes out with the kids doesn’t release them until she sees the parent. Which meant I would have to get out of the car. Which meant I would have to enter the circle of waiting parents all of whom were wearing appropriately Decent-Constricting-Clothing. Which meant I WOULD NOT escape being seen in my pet-hair-bedazzled glory.
So I bit the bullet and got out. I hung back, close to the car to wait.
And then it happened.
“Hi, Dyane! How are you?” called the mother of my son’s classmate. Her voice rang out through the parking lot.
I shifted uncomfortably under the glare of the bright spring sun. “I’m great, how are you?”
“Doing alright. Hey, I just wanted to let you know that me and my husband read the article on you in the community paper. And that story about the cat! We bawled our eyes out.” (FYI that would be Shadow in the Sun)
Hearing this, I started to feel just a tad less pet-hair-hairy. “Really? Wow, thanks! I’m sorry it made you guys cry but I’m really happy you liked it.”
“But it was in a good way! We love cats and had to put down 3 in the last five years, so we really felt it.”
We chatted about it for a few more minutes before she left to pick up her son. I had a few seconds to breathe before another parent I know came along. Turned out, she’d parked right next to me.
“Hi! Congratulations on your book!” she said as she approached. Luckily, she didn’t seem to notice my way-too-baggy pants and its failing waist elastic.
“You know, it’s great that you were able to achieve your dreams. So many people never do.”
Then she asked how she could support me, whether by buying the book at the local bookstore or on Amazon. I mean, how cool is that?
I’ve been writing a lot about the Writer’s Life and finding meaning in what we do, especially since for the most part most of us will never become famous or best-selling authors. The less time I spend worrying about what I’m NOT doing right to sell books online and focus more on the community and meeting flesh and blood people in regards to my book and writing, the more fun I have. Talking to real people, getting heartfelt feedback about how a story touched them or being encouraged because I managed to achieve my lifelong dream of publishing is so satisfying…even when I’m totally not prepared for it.
So, I guess I’m trying to advocate for authors to get involved in both online and community networking. Our friends and contacts can be great supporters and resources. We all know that word of mouth and personalized recommendations from one person to another are some of the best publicity we can get. And, as I’ve said many times before, nothing beats a firm handshake, a big smile, and hearing the words, “Great job on your book!”
Happy community networking!