But books and babies both take a while to find their way to you.
There’s that early period of waiting. The same semi-hopefulness that burbles somewhere at the very top of your belly but that you mostly try to ignore because, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. And maybe the time’s not right. And do I even know what I’m doing?
And then suddenly it happens. One minute you are all stomach flutters and wondering, the next you are doing it. There’s a date on the calendar. A deadline. A lifeline? In any case, this is it. Here we go.
Babies and books are not all apples to apples, but writing a book in the year after I had a baby made me realize that my experiences in welcoming both into the world weren’t so very different.
To be sure: my manuscript did not need to be fed, or changed, or rocked to sleep (that was me). But it was demanding of its parent in other ways. It required patience and understanding and it certainly kept me up at night. But it also gave me moments of intense, quiet joy.
Like a baby, a book is, in part, a tiny shared secret. It shifts and changes and grows into itself without anyone really seeing it at first. The parent—and writer—bears witness to the miraculous process of the child coming into herself. But there are moments when even the writer cannot see precisely what this book-child will end up like. So different than the practice of writing a blog post between breakfast bites and sending it off into the world by lunchtime, writing a book meant working on whole chapters before anyone else at all would read them—and a whole year and half before many more people than that. But we’re rounding the finish line. It’s time to start planning the baby shower book party. It’s time to begin sharing bits of the secret. Time to put the final touches in place. To prepare for this labor of love (and sweat and tears) to make its way on out into the wide world. We’ve still got a few months to go—the release date is January 12, if you’re the calendar marking type—but I approved the final proofs of Simple Matters last month. They came on a Wednesday afternoon in the midst of me having an existential crisis over my Twitter strategy (non-existent?), my website fonts (serif or sans?), and what the heck we were going to have for dinner (chili?). Put another way: a perfectly average late-afternoon mid-week.
The pages arrived via messenger, in the same padded envelope that all of other passes came in, but these ones were real. The pages were thick. The images were crisp. It was thrilling and—yes—a little intoxicating to take it all in. After months of looking at the blurry print-outs of my pages, I’d forgotten that the final pages would have sparkly photos and clear black and white text. I forgot that it would be small enough to hold in my hand. That when printed and bound they’ll create a book to snuggle up with.
I gave my stamp of approval for pages and cover. The cover had needed flowers, and so I bought cosmos and snapped early morning photos while there was still a bit of light. Now the cosmos are on the cover and it’s here for you to see. I know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but of course you will. I hope you like it.
Working on this project has been such an incredible honor. Simple Matters is a book about hopefulness. It’s about carving out the time and space for things that matter and getting rid of everything else. It’s about paring down and finding the essential. But it also acknowledges that we’re human: flawed and imperfect but still mostly capable of changing the world around us for the better.
I’m hoping that in it I’m able to share bits of wisdom that I have learned from living in small spaces and much larger spaces. I hope that for many of you it’s something to nod along to, and that for others it offers a bit of inspiration, a bit of encouragement. I think it will appeal to city folk and country folk. I’m sure it has something to offer fresh-faced idealists moving into their own spaces for the first time, and other things to offer veteran homeowners in need of a fresh start and a nudge in a new direction.
I’m terribly excited for you guys to read it. More soon.