My heart still skips a beat every time I see one of my novels on a shelf in a bookstore or a library. I’m so glad.
Never take good fortune for granted. Never allow something that once thrilled you to become commonplace.
Remember your roots.
If only I could take my own advice.
I was listening to Jenny Slate on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, and she was describing the moment when she was hired to work at Saturday Night Live. For Slate, this was a childhood dream come true. She began to cry as she told the story on the podcast and quickly apologized, explaining that she doesn’t cry often.
“It’s a beautiful story,” she said. “And sometimes I forget that.”
I loved that moment so much.
It was a reminder to never let your dream-come-true moment become anything less than that. Remember how precious and rare these moments are.
Over the course of this past weekend, I heard from readers in Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, France, Australia, and Italy. They contacted me via email, Twitter, and Facebook. Some had questions about the book. Others offered kind words. One is a student of foreign languages at a Russian university. His class is reading my book this semester, and he needed some help with a class assignment.
My most recent novel, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, has been translated into more than 20 languages, so I hear from international readers often. I probably average a couple a day.
When I saw the pile of emails on Sunday morning, I groaned. I rolled my eyes. It would take at least 30 minutes to reply to them all. I’d be answering questions that I’ve answered a million times and thanking people who I will never meet. Instead of writing, I would be corresponding.
Then I remembered Jenny Slate and how incredibly lucky I am. How this pile of email from around the world represents by own dream come true. How my dream-come-true story is also beautiful, and sometimes I forget it,
Five years ago, I just wanted to publish a book. Receiving mail from readers around the world would’ve been a pipe dream. How quickly I had forgotten.
I answered each one with joy in my heart. Truly.
As I did, I thought about my agent, Taryn Fagerness, who is my partner and friend in this dream. She’s the one responsible for sending my books around the world. Far better books than mine receive far less international attention, and this is because I have Taryn and those other authors do not.
I thought about my wife, Elysha, who was the first person to tell me to write Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. I had no desire to write that book. I thought it was a stupid idea. I thought it would go nowhere. Thank goodness she is smarter than me.
And I thought about Jenny Slate. I thought about how important it is to remember how fortunate I am. And I thought about what a jerk I was for being annoyed about the emails that I had to answer.
Hopefully the next time I start acting like an entitled jerk face, I have someone like Jenny Slate to remind me how lucky I am and how beautiful my story has been.