Pretty much all my life I’ve wanted to be a writer. All the best children’s books heroines (Ann of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, Betsy in the Betsy, Tacey & Tib books) wanted to be writers. I had some talent for it, and I worked at it. I taught myself how to touch type by pecking out an improbable A Little Princess rip-off about a girl who suddenly wakes up in a mansion on a dinosaur-vintage electric typewriter in my parents’ basement – the only ink left on the cartridge was red, but I didn’t care. I can remember in high school going to the library and finding the place on the shelves where my books would surely be shelved one day. As time has gone on, I’ve discovered other ambitions, but that’s one that has never gone away.
About a year ago, I got a lovely little package in the mail containing an advance copy of the prayer anthology a few of my poems were published in. I was very excited about this. It was my first real publishing credit (I didn’t count all the stuff I’d had published by the non-profit I’d worked for). For a couple of weeks I carried around with me everywhere, showing it off to anyone who would listen. I was a little disappointed not to be able to find it on Amazon (I didn’t fully comprehend the notion of an advance copy), and my friends didn’t seem as excited about it as I was. I think the only person who actually read any of the poems was Hatman, and he was teasing me at the time. So after a while I put my little book away, and didn’t think about it anymore.
About two weekends ago I went to the local Catholic bookstore to buy a poster for one of my classes. While I was there, I checked out the display of prayer books, looking to see if they had a cheaper version of the Morning & Evening Prayer book I’d recently bought. While I was surveying the shelves, I saw a very familiar small blue cover. I had to blink a couple of times. It was my book. Sitting there. On the shelf of a real bookstore. With a pricetag on it. Which meant that real people would pay real money for it. I picked it up, and thumbed through to find one of my poems. It was there. Beneath it was my name. In black and white. In a book I just picked up off the shelf of a bookstore. I realized that I was crying. I turned to the store owner, and showed it to her. “Oh,” she said cheerfully, “We’ll have to have you sign some!” and then bustled cheerfully off to wait on another customer. I smiled, wiped my eyes, and bought my poster. But back, tucked away in a corner of my heart, is knowing that sitting on the shelf of the Catholic bookstore on Burkhardt is a little pile of small blue books with my name in them.