Well, after a full year of telling friends, family and politely attentive strangers that yes, I’d secured a publisher for my book, but no, it wouldn’t be coming out for a long time, I woke up this morning and checked the calendar and realized that GOING SOMEWHERE hits shelves in twelve days.
And so that was today’s anxiety attack.
Thankfully, I’ve had a few hours to get used to the idea of transitioning from “publishing” to “published”. And now I’m just feeling giddy. Okay, maybe a bit terrified. But mainly, giddy. And grateful. Here’s why:
I still can’t believe I get to read at Powell’s City of Books. I’m so excited for my June 24 launch reading. I’ve already chosen an excerpt to read and laid out my outfit (hypercolor sweatshirt and lavender tutu), and a couple days ago, on a friend’s tip, I wandered into the Orange Room to find some sneaky pre-release copies on sale (buy yours now! beat the system!). I hope all you Portlanders will come out and heckle me—and if you’d like to bike there, and along the way learn about other Portlandian Bensons to whom I may or may not be related, you might consider joining this ride to the reading, organized by the Best Sister in the World.
I’m kicking off the bike tour in my old elementary school. Just a few days after the Powell’s reading, I’ll be hopping on an Empire Builder to Wisconsin, where I’ll kick off my book tour by bike at the Land O’ Lakes town hall, which, as it so happens, used to be an elementary school—I’ll be reading in the very gymnasium where I failed my first Presidential Physical Fitness Test (goddamn pullups). I’m so looking forward to that and every other event on the calendar, and have already spent untold hours poring over maps, trying to decide which quiet country roads I’ll take from reading to reading. If you want to follow along as I ride and read and make foolish-but-hopefully-entertaining decisions, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram.
People who aren’t named Mom are reading the book. While Google-stalking myself (don’t judge), I’ve noticed that more and more people are reading and reviewing advanced copies of GOING SOMEWHERE. I’ve got to say: it’s such a weird, wonderful thing hearing what total strangers think of me, my book, my ideas. Thanks to all of you who have already read the book and written reviews; knowing that you sat there with my words, for hours, is bewildering and deeply flattering. Thus far, some of my favorites have come through Penguin’s First to Read program, and from Portland Monthly, which oh-so-cheekily listed my launch as one of June’s Killer Literary Events. At this very moment there’s a Goodreads giveaway on, so if you too want a chance to read the book before it technically exists (magic!), you can sign up here. (Update: the giveaway has ended, but there’ll be more soon!)
The three women to whom I owe my literary life are kicking so much ass right now. As pub day approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the help I’ve gotten from three gifted, generous Portland writers—writers without whom my book simply wouldn’t exist. Partly, this is because I have a debilitating nostalgia addiction. But mainly, it’s because all three of them are doing pretty extraordinary things these days. So I’m going to conclude this post by singing the praises of my literary godmothers: Liz Prato, Karen Karbo and Cheryl Strayed.
Liz Prato, who taught my first-ever creative writing workshop, is a fantastic writer and teacher who edited this gorgeous anthology and will soon be publishing a collection of her own short stories. Also, Liz might be omniscient—I get like 90% of my literary news from her Facebook feed. I met Liz when I was just starting to take my writing seriously, and she pushed me to trust my voice, taught me how to give (and graciously receive) good feedback, and nudged me toward a yearlong program called the Attic Atheneum. Oh, and at the moment, she’s accepting a few more writers for her superheroic manuscript consultations—more info on her website.
Karen Karbo, as my Attic Atheneum mentor, schooled me in scene and sensory detail and helped me find my amazing agent and totally upended my life (in a good way) when she showed up to one of our Atheneum meetings and dropped my pages on the table and said, “This is going to be a book.” Karen is hilarious and perceptive and a wickedly great writer, and I’m kind of secretly hoping she’ll adopt me as an honorary cousin or something. This October, she’ll be re-releasing her second novel, The Diamond Lane, with Hawthorne Books. I suggest you take the money you were going to use to buy my book and spend it on hers instead.
And Cheryl Strayed, who co-mentored me in the Atheneum, is, uh… well, she’s Cheryl Strayed. I could tell you a million things about Cheryl’s formidable writing, or her incredible mentoring, or her endearing tendency to drop f-bombs, but you probably know all about that, so I think I’ll just stick with this: not four hours before her launch reading for a little book called Wild, Cheryl sat down with me and offered detailed, thoughtful feedback on an early, ultra-drafty draft of what’s now Chapter 8 of GOING SOMEWHERE. Oh yeah, and she also wrote the beautiful blurb that graces the cover. I basically owe her my first-born child. Please thank her on my behalf by contributing a few bucks to this needs-to-be-Kickstarted short film based on one of her Dear Sugar essays.
I have so much respect and gratitude for Liz, Karen and Cheryl. I’m never going to be able to thank them enough. But I’m sure gonna keep on trying.