Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Well, it's finally here.

After at least two years and - oh who am I kidding - a lifetime of dreams, my book is on the shelves. I feel as if I've grown and learned and aged significantly as I've walked through this whole experience. I made light of it in KR, but really, it's been astoundingly profound. Probably as close as I'll ever get to the experience of childbirth and parenthood combined. Intensely personal stuff that just doesn't belong in a blog. A blend of excitement, clarity, strength, joy, passion, anticipation, doubt, grief, exhaustion, and a nearly perpetual terror that I somehow wouldn't see this day, all those feelings kept me almost constant company.

And yet here we are. I just wonder when it'll actually feel real.

But where does Bob's Big Boy come into all of this? Well, for the first year I called this my big boy, because it was initially supposed to be called the Big Book of Yarn. About nine months after I submitted the manuscript, the greatest minds in publishing got together and decreed that the book wasn't physically big enough to be called "big." Suddenly my big boy was just...boy. After a brief period of actually thinking I'd let them change the name to the Knitter's Little Big Book of Yarn, we settled on the final title, my dearly beloved Knitter's Book of Yarn. Big boy became kboy.

But I have not forgotten.

Last week, when I was driving back down the Michigan peninsula from SOAR I spotted a real in-the-flesh Bob's Big Boy. I felt I had somehow come full circle, so I stopped to honor this unwitting landmark of my literary career.

But here's what the book really looks like now, in its ideal native habitat, courtesy of the lovely and thoughtful Jane.

What Jane didn't know was that, at the precise moment she was taking this picture in her own bookstore, I was furtively pulling out my cellphone to snap a picture of the book in my favorite bookstore, where I'd just spotted one precious copy on the shelf. (I plan on visiting that copy every day until it finds a home.)

I guess I need to explain that the bookstore, as an institution, has always been my most sacred place. When I was little, my father would take me there and we'd walk the aisles, him pulling out a book here, another book there, telling me all about it as we started a pile that I'd take home and devour. After my parents divorced, those bookstore visits grew less frequent, but I cherished each visit even more. To this day, no holiday or birthday is complete in my family without the gift of a book.

So, with this background, perhaps you'll understand how profoundly moving it was to enter a bookstore -- actually the same bookstore where I took my father when he last visited -- and find my own work on the shelf. The Pulitzer Prize committee may not have a category for knitting books, and the wider literary audience may snort at the subject, but for me it's very real, and very special.

Thank you for sharing this moment with me.