If you heard a tired thunk today, that was me finishing revisions for Stay the Night. I ran down to the wire, but after a bit of last-minute waffling sent the manuscript off to the editor in time. The next manuscript, Crystal Healer, is nearly ready to make its July 1st deadline, which is the same day Twilight Fall hits the shelves.
Then I have to pitch things, review offers, dodge phone calls about bestseller lists, and make a lot of career decisions that I've been putting off for some time now. None of that should be depressing, but it is. It can also be distracting, annoying, inconvenient and, at times, overwhelming. Which is when I go upstairs to my office, and look at my Wall of Why.
It's an ordinary wall, covered with not-so-ordinary things. In a little glass case in the center is the very first copy I ever held of StarDoc my first novel in print. I can still remember how it felt, to take it out of the box and hold it in my hands. That book is there as a symbol of how much I wanted this job, and how very fortunate I am to still have it after ten years.
Next to it is a framed photo of a California reader who wrote to tell me she had terminal cancer, and to ask me if I would tell her how I planned to finish the StarDoc series. She was fighting, but she was afraid she would die before I finished the books. I wrote back and told her everything I had planned, and sent her copies of all my manuscripts as soon as I finished writing them. I kept corresponding with her until a few days before she died, shortly after she read Eternity Row. That photo is there to tell me to always do my best for the readers, and to never give up.
On the other side is another glass case, this one holding a folded American flag that was flown in Iraq, sent to me last summer along with a certificate from the 332nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Balad AFB. All this, to thank me for sending books to our troops. There just aren't words to describe how stunning and humbling it is, to receive such a gift. All I have to do is look at that flag, remember all the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to serve this country, and the weight of the publishing world vanishes.
There are other things on the Wall of Why -- a photo of my daughter as a toddler, sitting on my lap at my first booksigning; the original cover art painting for Shockball; even a letter from then-President Bill Clinton replying to a bitchfest I'd sent him about improving senior health care in the U.S. (he didn't do anything with my suggestions, though) -- and they all recharge my batteries in some way or another.
There are a lot of important reasons to keep writing, no matter how tired, depressed or defeated I feel. Because as the Wall of Why always reminds me, it's not just about me.
What would you put on your wall, and why? Let us know in comments.