It’s not the readers I don’t know that are the hardest to encounter. It’s the ones I do. Specifically, the ones who’ve known me since I was a kid. The ones who are so kind and say such nice things on social media and come to my signings and are so supportive. But who, deep down, I know are just looking at me thinking, “But you were kind of goofy in high school.”
And they would be right.
I was kind of goofy. I was the girl who always had my nose in some book or other, choosing to read instead of horse around on the beach, electing to go into the school library to actually check out a book and not because some teacher was making me. I loved words, even then. I lost myself in stories. I dreamed of being a writer. But dreams like that, and bookish habits, aren’t the coolest things in high school. So I stayed on the fringe, and I observed. And in my mind, I was recording it all, saving it for later when maybe– just maybe– I would write a book of my own.
I remember once, being at a party (yes I did get invited to parties from time to time) but as usual I was on the sidelines, watching. I think back to that now and wonder what my peers thought of me there, observing, but not really participating. I was like a behavioral scientist someone accidentally let in the door. But I digress.
So I was at this party and a guy stopped dancing and came over to me. He got right in my face, his eyes mere slits, his complexion ruddy from the exertion and the alcohol. “Are you going to write about this someday?”
I blinked back at him, feeling exposed and outed but also feeling validated. He saw me as a writer. He thought I would actually do it. “Um, write about what?” I tried to play coy.
“About this!” he said, gesturing to the room we were in, at the dancing, partying, drinking, flirting, making out kids around us. “Are you going to write about us?”
A smile filled my face, one I couldn’t hold back. “Yes,” I said. “I will.”
He high-fived me and went back to dancing. And I stood there clutching the gift he’d inadvertently given me. I would write about that party someday. I would write about lots of things. He’d helped me see a tiny little glimpse of my future. What I didn’t know is that those people in that room would someday leave me messages on my Facebook page telling me congratulations or come to my readings, or share my book with their friends and say proudly, kindly, “This is a girl I went to high school with. She’s an author now.”
And they would be right.
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of The Things We Wish Were True and five previous novels. She speaks to women’s groups around the US. She is the co-founder of the popular women’s fiction site, She Reads www.shereads.org. Marybe
Connect with Marybeth at the following places:
Books by Marybeth Whalen
Buy The Bridge Tender: Paperback | Kindle
Buy The Wishing Tree: Paperback | Kindle
We are immensely grateful to Marybeth for taking the time to share her story with TNC. We know how busy authors are between promoting, editing, writing and being regular people. This was true for Marybeth when we sent her our initial email. Marybeth was promoting her latest release, had a looming deadline for her next book, was recovering from a hand injury (yes her writing hand) and still had a family to keep on track! Marybeth is also one of the founders of the wonderfully bookish website shereads.org. As you might be able to tell, she has her hands full. How she finds the time to write leaves us puzzled, so a tremendous thank you and big hugs to Marybeth!
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive event updates and bookish news.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.