If you’re a writer, you know there’s nothing more harrowing, more debilitating, or more anxiety-inducing than pressing ‘publish’ on something you’ve been working on for a long time. The reason is simple: Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. It agonizing to think I possibly made a mistake, said something that reads differently than what I intended, or—and this is the worst fear of them all—that I will come to regret my current state of thinking. It’s the living worst. Then again, maybe you’re a writer and when you press ‘publish,’ you feel unbridled accomplishment and to you, my previous sentence makes me sound weak and silly. Fine, you’re better than me, but either way, we can agree that something happens when we press that ‘publish’ button. Something big.
For me, putting words on a page is basically sifting out a part of myself and then ever-so-delicately laying it down on the chopping block. It sounds so weird but that transference is what I live for. Well, that and nachos. I live for both that transference and for nachos. So for the past year, I’ve been writing and eating nachos, sometimes in tandem, and I’ve pressed ‘publish’ nearly 50 times. How agonizing. How wonderful. Around essay number 25, I decided I wanted to compile much of what I’d written into a physical book, something pretty that could sit on my shelf. I know we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it helps when it’s pretty.
That decision wasn’t about selling a million copies, though that would be nice, and it wasn’t about making a name for myself, though I wouldn’t be mad about that. It was about celebrating the act of doing. I did something this year. I did nearly 50 somethings this year and I pressed ‘publish’ to send those things out into the world. That’s big. Some were read by many people, some only by a few –people really loved some of my essays, people really hated others. In either situation, I kept writing, kept releasing, kept doing.
After a few months of back-and-forth decisions—which cover design best represented me, what title made the most sense, who should be thanked, which essays should be included, how they should be organized—a proof copy arrived an hour before I was to leave for the airport to fly to Texas for my friend’s wedding. The fact that my soon-to-be-wed friend was also to whom the book is dedicated felt particularly kismet in that moment. I really like moments. And nachos.
So, an hour later as I stood outside of my office waiting for the car to squire me to the airport, I held the proof copy and took a picture with it. It’s so beautiful and bright and I truly love it. I hated how I looked in the picture I took, but as I took it, a woman passing on the street saw the cover and came over. She asked, “So, why do you like your hands today?”
It caught me off guard and I felt as if all the words in my head scrambled together. I took the pause of an eye blink to find my center again and then clumsily explained that it’s the title of one of the essays in my book. It’s about finding the thing you love about yourself no matter how small or simple and celebrating it.
The woman smiled and said, “I like that. That’s good.”
As she walked off, I knew that was something big. This whole year of writing has been about celebrating the parts of my life that are worth celebrating. From my hands to my friends, from childhood memories to adult faith, and from pool parties to driveway productions of A Christmas Carol. I’ve found so much to celebrate and explore, and it’s all in my book with the pretty cover that’s as loud and wonderful as I imagined it could be. And it’s only the start. Stay tuned, there’s so much more to write about.
I Really Like My Hands Today is available now at Amazon.com in paperback and on Kindle. Thank you for your support, it means the world to me.