For all of us who muster up the courage to put our thoughts on paper and who by some miracle get them turned into books, there is more than one moment of trepidation. First, our work goes into the hands of others--it leaves our own world, just like when our children leave our care and start to make their way without us.
I am having a little of this as my new book, My First Best Friend, is starting to be unpacked in book stores and is being put up on computer screens. When I first saw Victoria magazine come off the printing presses in the middle of the night, I could hardly breathe. Up to that point, it was in my backyard, now it was going out to the wide, wide world on its very own.
Of course, it is the heart and soul behind a creative endeavor that matters most. I have always felt that whatever I did, if I did it with the right motives and as best as I could, readers would understand if I made a misstep here and there. Will there be a comma out of place in My First Best Friend? Probably, although some very good copy editors worked to make the text "letter and punctuation" perfect, if there is such a thing. I've been in those chairs myself. No matter how sharp the pencil, perfection is near impossible. I like to think of how the Amish view the making of their quilts: They include a mistake to remind us all that only God is capable of perfection.
The perfection I do find in My First Best Friend is the pure and honest responses I got from women about this precious part of their growing up. I was asked to pick out some moments from the book--some "words of wisdom," so to speak--that summed up the more than 30 stories I had to tell. And so, I was looking back at the book and distilling something that I hadn't consciously done in the writing. Here are several that strike me now as almost having a life of their own:
What a silly thing to remember all these years, and what a blessing to have someone in your life who does.
We saw each other as a star....we each shined for the other.
The continuity in our lives...feels good. We will never be out of touch.
These times were life-altering for me.
Who else remembers?
Things small, personal, and heartfelt--the comfort of years and the blessings of friendship...for all the years.
These are just a few of the insights I have rediscovered as manuscript pages became a flesh and blood book. For those of you who have already read My First Best Friend or have your own inspiration to share, please do. You can go to the Notebook page on the official website and leave me a message, or you can share your memories here. I have discovered that despite common themes, at heart, each friendship story is like a snowflake; it is unique. Believe me, yours is, too. I hope that the book inspires you to look back and savor the glad times of childhood. Read and remember, as wise woman and Mitford author Jan Karon entreats us. While at the site, be sure to read Denise Di Novi's foreword to the book and a charming recollection of her friend, Kit. What a lovely story.