A couple of years ago, in that rosy flush of a little success and a whole lot of dreams (and fueled, I must admit, by a few too many margaritas), I did something stupid.
I had just sold my book to a big time publisher. I had been published before, to little acclaim, and had spent a lot of years writing and wondering if I’d ever be published again. Turned out, I would be, and this was nothing short of a miracle on the Lourdes scale to me. So a little celebration was in order.
On a neon-lit street in South Beach, standing — all right, swaying — in a tattoo parlor, I promised my husband, myself, a taxi driver and several bemused bystanders that I would get a tattoo — an Alice in Wonderland themed tattoo — if (not when) my novel, Alice I Have Been, hit the New York Times Bestseller list.
Flash forward a couple of years. Last week, my novel, Alice I Have Been, hit the New York Times Bestseller list. And in the midst of celebrating – responsibly, this time – my husband took me aside and said, “Now you have to get that tattoo, you know.”
The question remains: do I? Do I really have to get that tattoo? Don’t the literary gods know I was just kidding, just bargaining in the way that we artistic types do? You know – you whisper, “If I can finish 5000 words this week, I’ll go to church on Sunday.” Or — “If this book is ever published, I swear I’ll never envy J.K. Rowling again.”
The artistic life is a lonely one. It’s just us and the page, or easel, or lump of clay. No one’s really waiting, with bated breath, for us to accomplish anything. There are more than enough artists and authors already out there.
So we have to motivate ourselves. We have to learn to celebrate the little things. We have to learn to.
Promise total strangers that we’ll get tattoos if our books hit the New York Times Bestseller list.
I still don’t know if I’m going to do it. I’ve asked many friends.
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