I feel a little sheepish posting this link, in which a nice lady I've never met calls me one of her favorite living authors, mostly because I hate the self-promotional part of writing (I mean, who wants to hang around with douchebags who only talk about themselves all the time?), but also because I don't know that I've really earned this level of respect yet. I can't imagine anyone reading, much less liking, both my books equally. They're so different from each other, reflecting such different aspects of my writing life and personality, and the reactions to them among readers have been strongly marked one way or another--love one, hate the other. I'm okay with that. I'm starting to think all my books will be wildly different from one another in tone, subject matter, etc., a fact that probably will not make my life in the publishing world any easier. But I get bored doing the same thing over and over and want to try a new subject, a new technique, when I'd probably be better off, emotionally and financially, if I decided to stick to one thing and do it as well as I can.
But then I discovered Jessica Collins is an online friend of my sister Kelly, who's pretty cool about passing the word about my books. Aha, I thought--so that explains it. The world snapped back into place again. I'm grateful to be on this list, especially with Ann Patchett, whose work I so admire, but it's not the kind of thing I'm used to experiencing. Maybe someday I'll feel like I belong here. I hope I will. That's what keeps us all going, isn't it? The thought that the next one will be exactly what what want it to be, what we meant it to be.
I'm teaching Jose Saramago's Blindness this week in my Senior Capstone course, and among our discussions was a biography of the author that mentioned his first critically acclaimed work wasn't published until he was 60. I came home to tell Brando this amazing fact, the two of us middle-aged writers: that his entire Nobel-Prize-winning career happened AFTER he turned 60. A man who wrote one of my favorite books ever. Until he died in 2010, he was my favorite living author. It made me glad to be working in a medium in which people can get better as they get older. To hope the best is still ahead of us.
Sixty doesn't seem quite as far away as it used to. I'm hoping I have some more books in me between now and then, and that someday I might get over that hump of disbelief and doubt and be my own favorite living author. But maybe that's only something self-promoting douchebags do. I don't know.