Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday, dear This Day in June!
Happy birthday to you!
You may think I’m very weird for singing “Happy Birthday” to my new children’s book. But you have to understand: Today is Book Release Day. Which, if you’re a writer, is a Very. Big. Deal. It really is like the day you gave birth to your child (if you have a child, of course). And writers do all sorts of things to celebrate The Big Day. Some throw a party for themselves. Some go to a bookstore and buy their book – because that’s just a cool thing to do. Some go out to dinner.
And some worry. Will anyone buy my book? Will it get a horrible review – or LOTS of horrible reviews?
I’m one of the worriers.
So many of us have amazing creative talents. We write. We paint. We sculpt. We sing, or dance, or design, or craft. But for many of us, especially those of us who are “professionals,” those creative talents are hidden. Because it’s one thing to have our guilty creative pleasures. It’s another thing to go public with them, and celebrate our creativity with exuberance and pride. Why? Because it’s scary.
Consider these examples:
A few days ago, I complimented a little girl at my daughter’s school on her outfit, which was colorful and wildly creative. Her mom, who was standing next to me, whispered, “I wish I had more time to sew. Maybe when my kids get older.” As it turns out, she had made the outfit, but she didn’t want to admit it – probably because she didn’t want to brag and look like she was full of herself.
A few weeks ago, a student came to talk to me because he was concerned about his grade. When he opened up his notebook to show me how he takes notes, there were beautiful, intricate drawings in the margins. “Those are amazing!” I said to him. He blushed. “Oh, that’s just doodling. Instead of wasting my time on that, I really should pay more attention in class.”
A few months ago, at a party, I met someone who had a lot of tattoos, one of which was especially striking. “Where did you get that done?” I asked. She told me, and then, lowering her voice, she said, “I designed it myself.” She paused. “It’s really not that hard.”
All three of these individuals clearly have unbelievable creativity. And when they told me that they had sewed the outfit, drawn the doodles, designed the tattoo, they each found a way to downplay it – dismiss it, really. But honestly, I think all three of them wanted me to know that they were the creative force behind their awesome works of artistry. And you know what? I am no different from them. I love to sew, and do all things crafty. But when I sew a doll and give it to a child as a gift, I never tell anyone that I made it – even though I’m always in awe of each doll I make, because each one is so cute, and each has its own unique little doll personality. When someone asks me if I made it, I’ll tell them . . . but in a lowered voice, because I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging. It’s the same with writing: When a children’s story I write gets published, on Book Release Day I want to jump up and down and share with every single person I see my excitement about this exuberant and celebratory picture book. But a little voice in my head tells me I should be Humble and Reserved. That I shouldn’t share my excitement, or brag a little bit (or a lot), or throw myself a big party – because that’s narcissistic, you know.
Personally, I think that voice is Fear. Because if we don’t share our creativity with others, then nobody can criticize it – or criticize us. However, when we bravely put our creative work out there in the world, we’re revealing our bodies and baring our souls – and opening up our deepest pools of vulnerability.
When I kick Fear to the curb, here’s the truth that’s revealed: I’m more excited about This Day in June than I am about anything else I’ve ever created. The story itself is fun to read. Kristyna Litten‘s illustrations are simply outstanding – they capture perfectly the essence of Pride, and there are lots of intriguing little details embedded in each two-page spread (including an image that bears an uncanny resemblance to me – see if you can find it!). At the end of the story, the cultural and historical elements that are referenced throughout the book are explained more fully, and there’s a section that offers guidance on how to talk to children about gender identity and sexual orientation (because, oddly enough, there are no books out there on this topic).
You know the biggest reason I’m so excited about This Day in June? Because our children deserve a beautifully fabulous book about Pride – and I’m thrilled that I got to do it. It’s long overdue.
So how will I celebrate? I will go to work, as usual – but on my way home, I’ll swing by my local bookstore (The Avid Reader, in my case) and purchase my book – even though I already have several copies. (I’ll buy the Kindle version too, while I’m at it.) Maybe we’ll go out to dinner, but I might just prefer a quiet dinner at home. I’ll have a launch party – just not today. (Stay tuned on that one). And I’ll read This Day in June to my daughter before she goes to bed.
This Day in June is available today from Magination Press, from Amazon, or from your local bookstore.