I was reading an article recently about how to plan and execute a successful book launch. In her article, the author explains that there are two reasons for a newly published writer to throw a book launching event, the first being primarily for marketing purposes and the second being a time for celebration with friends and family. I was with her up to this point. Being very new to the publishing industry, I was soaking up her advice like the amateur sponge that I am. But at the end of the article, she says something that caught me off guard. She insists that, regardless of what her intentions were for throwing her first release party, she knew it would be celebratory for sure, because she had written a book all by herself.
A book! Yes! I wrote a book, too! All by myself.
It occurred to me that nobody writes a book by themselves. We do not live in a vacuum. We draw inspiration from the world around us… moved and sparked by the way a child runs everywhere he goes, the way the atmosphere fills with a strange, pinkish light before a summer storm, the way it hurts sometimes deep in our chests when we witness something truly beautiful. Then, when the story has unfolded and the words are there on the page in their rawest form, we entrust them to readers to help us press and rearrange them until they beat in a steady, purposeful rhythm. Someone must envision a face for the story’s heart, designing a cover that speaks to a stranger passing by in a way that makes that stranger want to stop and peek inside. Someone must make the pages look nice. Someone must tell the author that, yes, she can do this. Someone must love her project enough to want to share it with others, connect with it enough to believe it can be sold.
My journey in writing and publishing The Sky We Walk Upon is no exception. In fact, I feel so indebted to the people that helped bring my childhood dream to fruition that I was completely paralyzed by the idea of writing an Acknowledgements section for my first book. I was sure I would forget someone vitally important, and the idea of an omission like that sealed in a thing so permanent as a published novel… well, that was a task so daunting that I skipped it completely. This morning, however, I am holding my first, beautiful, glossy, paper baby in my hands, after having mauled the poor Fed-Ex man half-way up my driveway (in my pajamas, in the rain), and I am feeling equal parts overwhelming gratitude and regret. I did not write this book by myself. I should have “manned up” and said thank you.
I should have said thank you to God, because He taught me, as He taught Hannah, our heroine, that there is such a thing as boundless, unending love, and that it is mine, should I desire it to be so. He planted seeds of creativity in my mind and urged me, quietly, to write Him a story.
I should have said thank you to my amazing husband, Hans, for dreaming big, tethering my doubts, and making sacrifices in many forms to get this book into print. I should have said thank you to my kids for eating cereal three meals a day because mommy was too busy writing to cook. Just kidding. Sort of.
I should have thanked all the people in my life who taught me things about life, about the fragile balance between dreaming big and working hard, about the mechanics of writing and the benefits of pursuing a creative outlet, especially my parents Sharon Arsenault, and Bill and Pattie White. Thanks especially to Eileen Chamberland, my middle school English teacher who was the first person to tell me I could do this if I wanted to, and to Pat O’Donnell who helped me fall in love with fiction writing all over again and who assigned the short story from which The Sky We Walk Upon was born.
I should have said thanks to all the people who read terrible, early versions of this book, and then read it again and again, offering both encouragement and honest, critical suggestions as it grew into the best work it could be. There are a lot of you, even my gang from The Sunshine State, so I won’t list you all. But please know how grateful I am. Also, Victoria St. Louis, Juliette Osborne, Jac Arbour, Molly Rosen, Jack and Leslie White, your help has been invaluable for various reasons. Thank you. Everyone at WestBow Press, you are amazing. Thank you for helping make God’s promises available through books that educate, inspire, and entertain. The book I am holding is more than I imagined, more than I had hoped. I should have said these things. I should have said thank you.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.