Sometimes you start crying, and it’s not for the reasons you think you’re crying. (This is why I always carry tissues.)
A couple of weeks ago, I went to the public library in the town where I work. I brought a copy of my first book with me to donate to the stacks. I had done this successfully in my hometown, so I thought it might be cool to have a copy in another library.
I figured that they would read the book, just sort of skim it, so they could decide whether they wanted to put the book into circulation in the adult section or teen section. But when I came back about a week later, I saw that the book wasn’t anywhere in the catalog or on the shelves. I realized to my horror that they had assumed that my donation was for their dollar book sale, not for their shelves.
It’s not that I am so arrogant that I feel you should pay more than a dollar for my book. The thing is, I just wanted the book to go out to a whole bunch of different people, not just one person. So, I went to the desk, and I asked the librarian if I could get the book back from the donation pile.
She told me that they get a huge number of donations; she wasn’t sure she would be able to find it. She agreed to take a look around; she went into a back room and emerged a few minutes later, saying that she wasn’t able to find it. She said that there are so many books back there, it would take a while to look through them. I left the title and author of the book with her so she could look for it when she had a chance. I said I would come back in a couple of days.
Two days later, I went back after work to see if they had found my book. A new librarian waited on me; I explained the situation. She informed me that the book was probably thrown away, because, you know, sometimes they just throw away books. I was dumbfounded, and I bet she could see the shock and dismay on my face right through my mask. I asked her if she could please check in the back room for me. She agreed to check; I described the cover to her, and I went over to the sale table, hoping to find my book. I was prepared to pay TWO dollars to get it back if I had to. It’s not there.
After a couple of minutes, the librarian came back out and said that she didn’t see the book anywhere, but how long ago did I drop it off? How many years or months? I told her about 2 weeks. She said, “Oh, well, they go through them really quickly, and they decide whether they want to send it to another branch of the library, put it in the book sale, or just throw it out.”
The librarian told me that it could have been sent to another branch, but she doubted very much that another branch would want the book and it probably got thrown out. She refused to take my name and number because she felt that she had already looked for it carefully enough, it was just gone, and there was just nothing she could do about it.
Next thing I know, there I am, sitting in my car, crying.
I tried to figure out, “Why am I crying?” At first, I thought maybe I was crying because I was mad at the library, and a lot of times I cry when I’m mad. Also, there’s the fact that I paid $15 to have the damn thing printed, and now it’s gone in the trash. That could make you cry too, right?
Maybe, however, there was more to my crying. Maybe that book is a little too close to my heart, and because it’s all about Matt, I can’t bear the thought of it being thrown away.
I felt so disrespected. I felt that this lady could not have cared less about all the time and effort and emotion that it takes to write a book. She doesn’t really care about books—and she’s working in a library. I know this is hyperbole but--it’s like when a person doesn’t really like kids, and they become a teacher. It confounds me.
I told myself, you better stop crying, because you’re putting yourself out into the world, and the world is pretty mean sometimes. You have to be prepared for this sort of thing. I’m trying very hard to be prepared for this sort of thing—hell, I thought I was prepared, but clearly, I am not prepared.
I guess I was crying because I’m not prepared for the possibility that people don’t give a shit about my book. Even though it’s not logical, a little part of my brain equates people not caring about the book to people not caring about Matt. The reason to write that book was to work through some stuff, but it was also to ensure that Matt won’t ever be forgotten.
My brain tells me that the book isn’t necessary for people to remember Matt, because his family will never forget him. His friends will never forget him. It’s just my mom-heart that gets a little wonky sometimes. A mom-heart never gets out of the habit of protecting their kids.
Thankfully, I’ve got friends and family who will help me when I feel sad or when somebody doesn’t treat my boy or my book the way I’d like. You can’t always have things go your way; I’ve certainly learned that over the past several years.
And I guess the other thing I’ve learned is that it’s ok to cry, even if it takes you a few tries to figure out the origin of the tears.