There are few moments in life where one can pinpoint happiness. Usually it's spotted in a rear view mirror. "Oh yeah, that was fun." Rarely does anyone recognize and instantly cherish joy. Monday November 6th I had two hours of utter happiness. (Not to mention a lot of fun planning.) A friend offered her home for the book launch of my 4th book, my first young adult and LGBT novel. We invited 60 people. We baked, shopped and bought wine. People filled the house, chatting, laughing, connecting the dots. My half-baked plan not to imbibe until after my book chat went out the window in the first half hour. (Sake, I rationalized, looked like water.) After an hour I spoke to the remarkably diverse group. Earlier I joked with a friend who knows me as a confirmed public crier. "No tears. Not one. These people mean nothing to me."
Within thirty second I was sniveling and weepy as I shared the backstory to Chasing Nirvana. How writing a character who was bullied and isolated for being gay brought back my own struggles with depression. Chasing Nirvana taught me that sometimes I'll write above my pay grade to reach deeper emotions without knowing it. Apparently I'm not to sharpest tool in the shed if it took four books to figure this out. My years as screenwriter made me think of myself as a detached but able crafts person. (Working on draft 22 of a studio screenplay can do that to a person.)
Everyone at the party, including people I didn't know, were so completely supportive, engaged and effusive. I couldn't have asked for a brighter beacon to sustain me as I stare at the computer at draft #9 of my work in progress, book 5, wondering if it's too late to start another career. Each of those people have accomplished tremendous things in their own lives and yet they stopped to share a celebration of one little book. One measly writer.
People love a story. And the story of this party has a happy ending. We all had a wonderful time. And the book? It just hit its first best seller list.
Ellyn Oaksmith is the USA Today bestselling author of four books, including the upcoming Chasing Nirvana. She lives in Seattle with her family.
How do I find ideas?
They find me. We date for a while & if things work out, we marry. For one year. Best books for writers? Stephen King On Writing Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.