24 May Saying Good-Bye
I’ve been in this relationship for over 15 years. And I’m Saying Good-Bye.
We initially got acquainted fifteen years ago. But since January of 2014, we notched up 184 meetings of one sort or another. It’s been a long and significant relationship, and I’m calling it quits, kissing it good-bye, moving on to other things. To tell you the truth, I didn’t expect this change of heart. It blind-sided me. Caught me completely off guard. But that’s exactly what happened.
Two weeks ago, I did three book events in four days.
I spoke to 150 geography students, then to a small book club in south Fargo, then to the Retired Teachers Association of Moorhead. When I packed up my suitcase: mostly (unsold) books, pictures, maps, African cloth and knickknacks, my heart sank. I was tired of telling my own story, tired of hearing my own voice.
I went home and had a good long think and pulled up my records.
I’ve done 184 events: meetings, blogs, Q&As, interviews, radio programs, TV programs, newspaper articles about my first book, So Many Africas. It’s been a grand run. My book won two awards. It sold out its first run and went to a second printing. It got some great reviews and has an almost 5 star rating on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m not complaining. But I did come to the conclusion, it’s time to stop. So here I am, Saying Good-Bye.
I had one speaking engagement left on my calendar set for six months from now, and I emailed them a kind letter that I wouldn’t be coming. The next day a book club emailed, they’d love to have me come speak about my book. I said thank you but no. I sent them a link to my book page that includes maps, photos, activities, a book trailer and discussion questions. I said, “I’m focusing on my next book.”
This has been such a tumultuous and unexpected turn in my life.
I don’t know if every author comes to the point where they says, “I’m finished. I’m done. Let’s move on.” But that’s where I’m at. I’m kissing my first book good-bye.
I’d like my book to know I’m not abandoning her. I’d like her to know, I’m not writing her off in a mean sort of way.
If I could talk to her I’d say, “You taught me so much! You made me an author. I’m grateful for all I’ve learned and done and for all the fine people I’ve met because of you. But honey, it’s time to move on. So I’m kissing you good-bye and wishing you a fine life. And I want you to know you’ve been very good to me.”
I didn’t anticipate this move, but I don’t regret it either.
The day after I said good-bye, I woke up with my heart singing. I’m writing new things and am frankly quite joyful to be moving on. So. That’s that. My book is still for sale. Maybe something amazing will happen with it. Who knows. But I want to let it live out its own life. Without me holding its hand.
I won’t be packing up my suitcase with So Many Africas and cloths and photos … instead …
I’m going to be packing it up for a research trip to the Netherlands where I’m hoping to tie up all the loose ends of my second book and get it finished. So here’s to endings and beginnings and research trips and new things just around the corner.
Here’s to saying, “No” in order to say, “Yes.”