Since the release of the book ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness’ which contains two of my stories, I have been busy being famous – or not.
True, the book is not a full-length novel bearing my name in raised, gold lettering. And true, I am ‘just’ a contributor in the anthology. But in my up-and-coming writing world, this is BIG. As I waited for the day to arrive when the book (as given to contributors upon story acceptance) would be in my hand, seeing my words in black and white, I wondered: would anything change?
I wondered if I would look different with this new-found ‘fame.’ Nope - I still had to use a ½ a tube of under-eye cream everyday to combat the puffiness. I still had to do my own hair and makeup – no one was coming to do it for me.
I wondered if people would recognize me and cry out, “HEY! There’s that famous Chicken Soup for the Soul girl!” as I sauntered down the street in my power suit, Coach™ bag and fancy hair. Considering my picture is not in the book, I own neither a power suit nor a Coach bag (but I have a Coach wallet, courtesy of Mom), and I still have the same hair from 1989, I am still just another person walking down the street.
I wondered if my new-found fame would instantly release my demure, mature, professional side that should have come out long ago. I recently all but fell to the floor writhing in joy when my sister gave me three packages of Purdy’s Sweet Georgia Browns – each package containing two of the chocolate, caramel and pecan delights. I ate them in two days. Actually, in one-and-a-half days. And I didn’t share. So much for maturity.
During the week the book was released, I would stalk the bookstores, waiting to see ‘my’ book on the shelves. When they did arrive, I danced/skipped in the aisle (truly), and stared in amazement at my name in ink. I fantasized about spreading a few books on the floor of the bookstore and frolicking in joy. So much for professionalism.
Since none of these ‘famous’ things happened, I reverted to basking in my own literary joy.
After the books were in the stores for a week, I built up the nerve to go sign some books. Me, Lisa, doing that – who woulda thought?
I had no idea what to expect, never mind having no idea of how it was done. So…I just did it.
I spoke to the manager of the first bookstore, and she resoundingly said YES to my offer to sign books. After bumbling like an idiot (me, not her), she told me to get the books from the shelf, and go to the corner to sign them. It took great effort to sign normally with shaking hands, all the while acting cool and calm, as if I do that sort of thing every day.
Done signing, I wondered what to do next. So I took the books back on the shelf - FACE OUT - and left the store.
No trumpets sounded; no red carpet was rolled. Oh – okay then. That’s all there is to it, I guess. But I wasn’t disappointed. I giggled and skipped my way down the street, proud of what I had just done.
The next day, feeling brave and confident, I stopped at the next store.
I approached the manager and he, along with his co-worker, was quite thrilled with the whole thing. “We just had Adrienne Clarkson (former Governor-General of Canada) here last week signing her book, and now you’re here!”
My GOD, I thought, I am being used in the same sentence as Adrienne Clarkson.
They asked me about writing, one of them blushed, they collected the books for me to sign, they wouldn’t let me put the books back….it went on.
At the risk of sounding like my head had swelled bigger than the bookstore, read on….
A week later I was reminded of WHY I write – not for fame, money, or a new Coach bag (well, maybe). On the Chicken Soup for the Soul® website, readers can subscribe to have a Chicken Soup story, randomly picked from their countless books, sent to their email. One of my stories from ‘my’ book was picked.
The next day, my elation at this honour still having me in whirlwind, I received an email from a Chicken Soup story subscriber. She made the effort to track down my email address to tell me she had read the story, was touched, and to keep writing.
And THAT is why I write. Forget about fame....