When I lived in Alaska, I interviewed the youngest girl to summit America’s highest peak, Denali. I interviewed then-12-year-old Merrick Johnston before her 1995 climb. She said she used to be afraid of crevasses, but after plenty of training she liked to stick her head in them just for fun. My news director interviewed her after the climb. He asked, “How did it feel when you reached the top?” Her answer: “I had to pee. Then I threw up.”
Today is the official release date for my book, They Only Eat Their Husbands: A Memoir of Alaskan Love, World Travel, and the Power of Running Away, and while I’ve spent recent weeks in a flurry of excitement, now I feel kind of like Merrick did on the summit of Denali. I’ve been drinking chai today and I need to pee, and if I think about the book too much I might throw up.
Otherwise, today feels like any other day. My husband, Dale, and I walked to the Pajama Baking Company for peach scones and caffeine, as we usually do on Mondays, and now I’m sitting here in my sweatshirt typing a blog post, as I often do. I feel neither impending fame nor fear of failure. Since I get to write for a living, I’m grateful this day is more of the same. I have no clear idea what will become of my memoir in the months to come; I can only keep putting it out there and see what happens.
I have no clear idea what will become of my memoir in the months to come; I can only keep putting it out there and see what happens.
I’ll do a national radio tour on December 6. I’ll do a driving tour across the West in my rattling, rusty Honda Civic Hatchback from March 20 to April 17, 2011. In between, I’ll make stops at several blogs. All of this is a new journey, so you might say my book is an adventure that keeps on giving: I lived it, I wrote it, and now I get to share it. If I’m lucky, I haven’t reached the summit yet, but instead will watch readers take it from here.
ADVENTURE IS INFECTIOUS
If you read my memoir, I hope it takes you on an adventure of imagination, and perhaps inspires you to create more adventure in your life. Adventure is infectious. Each time I read a book, embark on a trip, or take on a project, I run across someone or something that inspires a new goal.
Here’s one way that works: since I created this blog, I’ve encountered many fellow travelers online. The other night in Denver I met one in person: Chris Guillebeau, blogger and author of The Art of Nonconformity. I’ve long wanted to visit Ethiopia, and I’ve lately renewed my commitment to volunteerism. It turns out Chris is embarking on a project to provide water in Ethiopia, so I’ve offered him my services. Whether or not he can use my help, now that I’ve put an intention out there it’s inevitable that at some point I’ll end up in Ethiopia in some sort of service capacity.
PAUSING TO GIVE THANKS
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I think that when any of us reach a milestone it’s worth pausing to acknowledge how far we’ve come and give thanks. I’ve published a book about how I used to be mired in dysfunctional relationships and how embarking on a solo adventure transformed my life. The thing I hope will inspire readers is that I’m not any more special than anyone else who takes action on their goals. I tripped over transformation by mistake, and discovered that enlightenment is not a destination but an ongoing journey. For all this, I am grateful.
Last week, I had a book launch party in Denver, where some 80 or so friends helped me celebrate this milestone. (photo by David Vinson)
Similarly, although this book release day might seem anticlimactic, I’ve tripped over many exciting moments along my path to publication, and I suspect there are more to come. Last week, I had a book launch party in Denver, where some 80 or so friends helped me celebrate this milestone. I might have cried over the love, warmth, and vibrant energy I received from the crowd – except that I couldn’t stop grinning with joy.
I might have cried over the love, warmth, and vibrant energy I received from the crowd, except that I couldn’t stop grinning with joy. (photos by Dale Jolley)
Another newly published author told me she didn’t have a release party, and I immediately wanted to suggest to every author that they give themselves this gift. I can’t imagine anything more empowering than sharing my creative work with a roomful of people who want only the best for me. And I can’t imagine anything more humbling than having several friends help me mop up afterward when the toilet overflowed. I’m lucky in friendship… and in love.
I can’t imagine anything more humbling than having several friends help me mop up afterward when the toilet overflowed. (photo by Amy Callahan)
Dale vomited the morning of the party – he insisted it wasn’t nerves, but food poisoning – yet he still helped me sell books that night. That, even though my book is full of dirt on my romantic life before we married. Marriage is an adventure, too, and I’m glad I’ve found a generous travel partner to walk through it with me.
A CONTEST TO ENTER & WORDS TO LIVE BY
In that same spirit of generosity, and the spirit of the upcoming holiday of Thanksgiving, I’d like to offer you an opportunity to win a free copy of They Only Eat Their Husbands. You can enter this contest in one of three ways: 1) write a comment on this post, 2) write a comment on the book’s Facebook fan page, or 3) join my mailing list at CaraLopezLee.com. You have until midnight Monday, November 22 to enter. I’ll announce the winner here on Girls Trek Too on Thanksgiving weekend.
By the way, I looked up that young climber, Merrick Johnston, on Facebook. At 27, she’s now a graduate of Dartmouth, a research geophysicist, and a resident of Norway. She lists climbing, snowboarding, and hockey among her interests. So even after she discovered that reaching a mountaintop can sometimes leave one thinking, “OK, so that happened,” her desire for adventure remains strong. I’ll leave you with the quote that Merrick has posted on her profile: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss. Words to live by from a great writer.