Before the Weekend...
After a long walk last Friday, I consulted with my friend Liz and she helped me to decide to send an invitation out to my mailing list, to invite people to visit my site and to read my blog post.
I shivered as I pushed the button that said “Publish,” fearing that no one would receive, open or read any of the nonsense I’d written. Or perhaps like the Sunday before, some technical glitch would stop the presses or the mail and my first blog would fail to go out. I felt foolish, a woman of my age not knowing how any of this works.
My publisher wanted me to join Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and anything else to get my name out there and to help create a market for my new book. You’d think that after five books to my credit, I could just write books and readers would come.
It’s not that I could or would ever depend on substantial royalties for my livelihood. But there’s something about most of us writers. We are strange animals. It is my belief that we need to write and especially to be read. As a psychoanalyst, writing my papers helped me to be a better clinician by re-examining and thinking through my experiences. It made me a better therapist for my patients and put me in touch with colleagues all over the world, other analysts to teach, to share with and to learn from. Writing also unexpectedly transported me around the world and I began to feel more connected, not so alone.
I often recall the good old days when an invitation to some foreign land was a welcome surprise that lifted my spirits, knowing that someone was interested in what I had to say; There were even groups of people in my field who thought it worthwhile to pay my expenses to cross oceans and mountains to appear in person and to speak about whatever interested me in the moment. That I was given an honorarium was redundant; I felt honored just to be asked to speak or teach or consult on clinical work.
After retirement I realized that those small royalty checks were likely to become the only sign that my work was still being valued; The proof that some people still read what I had to offer.
When I retired, I could think of nothing better I’d like to do with my spare time than to write. I was commissioned to speak and to publish some papers in these past years since moving to Paris and my dear friend, Prof. Didier Houzel, kindly and generously translated some of my papers into an ever so eloquent French.
I had always dreamed of writing fiction, something creative. I sensed I had something more personal than my academic writing to contribute.
Maya Angelou said,“There’s no greater agony than having an untold story inside of you.” But, at least for me, the greater agony is being ignored, unread, unseen, unheard; The curse of a youngest child in the family, I suppose. I even had the first draft of a mystery novel I’d written many years ago stuffed away in some drawer somewhere.
When we were first confined due to Covid-19, I decided this was the time to re-write that book. But the night before the confinement began, I had a dream. The dream became the preface of a memoir, originally intended to be a humorous take on the often heartrending and sometimes discombobulating escapades of an American newly immigrating to Paris without a clue of what was coming my way. But this intended comedic adventure grew into something utterly unexpected. "The Most Beautiful Place in the World” turned into a very intimate series of associations that taught me more about myself and my choice of title. There is also a lesson to be learned from this memoir, and I suspect that each individual reader will have their own ’take away’.
Nearing the eve of the publication and distribution of this book, I am reminded of some words of wisdom from Aesop’s fables:"Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true!”
Today I have an inbox filled with subscriptions to my website and blog and many congratulatory love notes. I wrote to Liz to ask, “Now what?"