"Hey, Mom. Hope you enjoy the book."
"To James: you do you!"
What are those quotes, you might be asking?
Those are ridiculous things that I've written on people's book covers when they ask me to sign them.
Yuuuuuup. Take a moment to admire that brilliant prose!
I just never know what to say, and I feel like what I sign for people should be meaningful in some way. (Whether it was intentional for her or not, I still recall seeing a look of disappointment on my mother's face after she read what I'd written on her cover.)
*Sidenote: Have a seat, mother! I mentioned you in the book's dedication! Is that not cool enough for you?! 😂❤️
All kidding aside, I feel embarrassed that someone with a Master's Degree in writing is unable to come up with a witty on-the-fly (or thought-provoking) inscription. Like I can never quite live up to others' expectations of what they think it means to be a writer. (I feel like I need one of those "What they think I do / What I think I do / What I really do" memes... Someone wanna get on that for me and post it in the comments?)
But deep down, I know that I shouldn't be embarrassed.
Here's the thing that most people don't understand about being a writer: being a writer does not mean that you always know exactly what to say in any given moment.
"Ask Tim. He's a wordsmith," I've heard.
"Tim's an author; have him give the speech" is another one.
Or as I stutter and stumble over a sentence when talking to someone, they'll say, "Ha! I thought you were a writer!"
It's all well-meaning fun, I know. And I'm really glad that you think I'm talented with words, but the reality is that it takes time to come up with the right ones.
A pianist doesn't play a song perfectly on the first try. A songwriter doesn't nail the lyric on the first try. Heck, people don't even get selfies right on the first try -- we take multiples so we can scroll through them later to find the best one, right?
Likewise, a writer does not find the perfect words on the first try. In fact, sometimes it can take an excruciating amount of time with myriad revisions before the words flow off the tongue just the right way. It's a craft, and crafting something takes time.
For reference, after writing each of those five novellas in "Out of the Shadows" and proofreading each of them on their own, I also read the entire collection, cover to cover, around five or six times (out loud to myself) before I felt mostly sure that the words were what I wanted them to be. And even now, I'll occasionally pick it up and find certain sentences I'd like to go back and tweak.
Maybe someday I'll be able to come up with the perfect inscription for book covers, but if I have to come up with one spur-of-the-moment?
"Hope you enjoy the book, Margaret. You do you."
Until next time,