It's finally happened. I've started calling myself an author. On the form I filled out for my new dentist, in the work section on my Facebook profile, in the e-mail I sent to a headshot photographer. Each time, my fingers hesitated and my heart did a little flutter as the final letter sprung from my fingertips.
Four months have passed since I accepted my publisher's offer, and still I fear something might jinx it. (If this were a multimedia post, you be hearing the sound of knocking wood right about now.)
But that flutter when I wrote the word was nothing compared to the dolphin kicks that pummeled my chest when I said it out loud to a complete stranger for the first time.
I was sitting in a salon chair with my hair slicked back in a perverse ice cream cone swirl, glossy hair dye drawing a brown outline around my face, when my new hairstylist asked the question, "So, what do you do?"
Immediately, rosy circles dotted my cheeks, filling in like a five-year-old coloring a stick-figure drawing.
Mind you, this first visit with my new stylist was on shaky ground. We'd exhausted our collective stores of small talk before she painted the first gloppy stripe on my roots. Where we lived, where we were from, our relationship statuses, our summer vacation plans, the unpredictable New England weather . . . nothing resonated. Nothing emerged upon which we could build more than a thirty-second conversation.
We were not clicking.
I squeezed my hands together under the salon cape and swallowed past the lump in my throat. Should I say it? Could I say it? When does one go from writer to author? Upon the offer? The signed contract? Actual publication? I wasn't sure. I'm still not.
And yet, that day I found myself uttering, for the first time, the words, "I'm an author."
Her eyes met mine in the mirror. "What do you write?" she asked.
Here I thought maybe I'd have an advantage. My stylist was more than a few years my junior.
"Young adult books," I said tentatively.
"Do you have any published?"
"Well, in fact, I recently accepted a two-book deal for my series."
"Wow, congratulations," she said. "What's it about?"
I had yet to perfect my cocktail party pitch. I still haven't. Which reminds me, I better get on that.
"It's about a girl who's a genie," I said, giving the briefest of descriptions possible. The stylist paused mid-stroke so I added, "She's descended from a long line of Jinn, which are spirits some cultures believe in even today." The stylist again met my gaze so I fleshed it out even more. "She lives among humans but has to hide her identity. She has to grant wishes but can never have her own wish granted."
The stylist set down her brush. "I'd totally read that," she said.
Again, if this post had a soundtrack, what you would have just heard was a big, loud, click.
And that was it. We were off and running. She sheepishly confessed her love of the Twilight series, expecting me to dismiss them (due to my age or self-professed author status I couldn't say). I shocked her by telling her I'd read them all, back to back. She shocked me by saying how much she loves books more than movies, something I do know I didn't expect because of her age. With every snip, she detailed the ways the Twilight movies and the Hunger Games movie deviated from the books. With each lock of hair that fell, she analyzed why the changes mattered. Why the books were better. Inside, I cheered. A fellow book lover!
Save for a brief fork we took down the vampire trail, where we declared each other soul mates due to our mutual obsession with the television version of The Vampire Diaries (both totally Team Damon and Team Klaus), we spent the rest of my appointment talking books.
My author confession sparked something that gave our fledgling relationship a foothold. It was the last thing I expected. It made me realize just how much I underestimated the power of the written word.
It has the ability to bond people who have nothing else in common. Books don't care where you live, what you do, or how old you are. All you need to share is a love of losing yourself in another world.
Reading, writing, they may be solitary endeavors, but they thrive on being shared. This is why I love reading. This is why I love writing. This is why I'm honored to be able to call myself an author (I can, right?).
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go watch Breaking Dawn, Part 2. I promised my vampire soul mate we'd compare the movie’s ending to the book's at my next appointment.
*Thanks to YAtopia for inducting me into their club (and skipping the hazing part) and thanks to you for stopping by to read my first post. Looking forward to many more!