Wow. What. a. spring!
It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve sat down to write. [interlaces fingers, cracks knuckles, and rubs hands together as if to start a fire] I mean, to scratch the itch, sure, I write my daily revelations in mini-form on Facebook. Just the other day I went there… To grieve a loss. Not of a patient, but of her lingering memory. We lost her too young several years ago, and today I found out her husband got remarried. It was an unexpected body-blow… the strangest of feelings… being happy and blessed that he could go on, and at the same time, wanting desperately to go back. Back to when she was here. I cried when I heard and again when I was alone. And whenever a thought festers enough that I cry about it when I’m all by myself, I should probably write about it.
But I digress. It’s been a long while since I sat down to write more than just a reflection for Facebook. And in truth, I think I know the reason, and it’s a good one. Are you ready? I’ve been living and breathing the deepest, most important writing I’ve ever done, every day: when I look at my new book.
On April 12 as so many of you know, I published The Longest Mile, my first-ever published book [insert a squeal here that will never get weaker]. By now you also know the story it tells — that of my cancer-fighting charity, the Team CMMD Foundation, and how we got our humble start.
It feels now, on the far side of publishing, like the writing of the book is worthy of its own book. The writing part started two-and-a-half years ago, and even after I could see the publication date on the horizon, there was months of work still to do. Getting ready for the book launch involved me, my publisher, a publicist, a marketing coordinator, my staff at the practice, my team, my best friends, strangers across the country who read and reviewed the my book.. and of course involved——no, required——my family.
I’m not sure what day I was prouder: the day that 1,500 advance copies of my book landed on my doorstep and my teammates hauled them in boxes into my practice, or the day that my husband and kids came with me to my local Barnes & Noble just to ogle and point at my book on the shelf. There it was: a soft-touch, pure white cover with an electric-green spine, perched in a perfect stack right below — oh my stars — a book by Michelle Obama. What more could a girl want?!
It turns out, a lot. Over the next few weeks I’d see my book in similar stacks at local bookstores, banquets for foundations and charities, a running store, a medical conference, a radio studio, a 5K, the front counter at my medical practice, and even a huge expo for the Broad Street Run. It was a thrill every time – it never got old.
I signed and signed and signed. I signed the title page with variations of my name, my best wishes, my mission, and even my heartache, following the stories people would tell me as they approached the author table. I signed books until the pen I selected for the job ran dry, and my fingers ached, and I vowed to make any future books ebooks.
I told myself that after the last scheduled book signing — which was a huge hoorah punctuated by joyous drinks with my girlfriends — I would take a breather for awhile. But just this past week, a month later, I was still keynoting at a charity dinner and then taping a radio show, in between my full-time hours practicing medicine with all my heart, and full-time hours being Mom in Chief with all my soul.
It’s been exhausting, but it hasn’t just been the hours. It’s been the wondering. Wondering if my story was reaching people. Wondering if anyone cared. Wondering if people were reading and what chapter they were on. The journey was just as confusing and nerve-wracking in its self-doubt as it was gratifying and important. It was not unlike my journey to become a doctor or become a mom. Will I be any good at this? Aren’t I just faking it till I make it? Does that make me a fraud?
But my local community and my teammates proved the worth of my book in days. They’d post their favorite chapters; photos of their dogeared copies on bedstands; shots of them reading the book to their kids. They’d buy 4 and 5 copies, giving them to cancer fighters they knew, or to their favorite nurse. One teammate even left her already-read copy at a hotel after her vacation, with a note to the next stranger who might pick it up and be inspired. Be still my heart.
I didn’t think I could find another thing I loved as much, and wanted as badly, as to be a doctor. A great doctor. And listen, writing is not that, not even close — but my life never ceases to amaze me by the new way it shapes our goals and dreams as we grow and change. The white coat was everything to me, for so much of my life. Then I saw my baby girl. Then I saw my team show up in droves to a dedication run. Then I saw my book on a bookstore shelf. Dreams do come true, and dreams get added-to every day.
The wild ride of being an author is only just beginning, and I’m so excited to see what the next months bring. New readers emerge every day, reviewing the book at Amazon.com and becoming followers or fans. My story is spreading, and doing good. I have loved every minute spent with readers – thank you, from the bottom of my heart – and there are even more adventures to come.
Speaking of adventures, in just a week I leave for 14 days in Italy with my family. It is a long-awaited trip that I will spend mostly unplugged… BUT I plan to write you some postcards from the road. Will you watch for them?
Thanks for all the love,
(P.S.) If you haven’t gotten a copy of The Longest Mile yet, I’m giving away 10 free books with a GoodReads giveaway this month. Visit the book page on GoodReads here and enter the giveaway for your chance to win!