A birthing rain continued to bring Meadowlark into the world throughout the morning of the book launch, just as rain heralded a birth in the novel:
Grace woke to a slow, soaking spring rain. Thunder cracked and lightening laced the sky. She lay in bed and studied the way her nightgown rose steeply over the mound of her belly. Mae had been by for a visit ten days ago and said the baby could come at any time. With another loud clap from the storm clouds, the baby within startled and abruptly straightened its legs. Tiny feet kicked Grace right below her ribs. She smiled and rubbed where she felt the kick…Rain continued throughout the day as her abdomen tightened then relaxed, keeping pace with the thunderclaps.
In the previous decade, I’ve thought a lot about the moment when Meadowlark would come into the world. Oftentimes, it felt that I was, as Don Quixote sings in Man of La Mancha, dreaming the Impossible Dream. Other times, I could visualize with crystal clearness.
What I never grasped, though, was the reality of the feeling in the room when it actually happened. The event was better than my wildest hopes and dreams, because of the people who filled the room.
You read in writing books to “trust the process” of the publication of a book. When one is deep into rejections, one doesn’t necessarily embrace this idea. In fact, one might even like to drop-kick this idea right out the window. And by one, I mean me.
As I stood in Collected Works Bookstore this past Saturday and looked out onto who had gathered for Meadowlark, what I felt was bone- and heart-deep gratitude that Meadowlark had followed exactly the journey that it had. Without the journey unfolding along its own path, this moment would not have been possible. I treasured each and every presence there, and marveled at the array of experiences and life paths woven throughout us all – my parents, my husband, our children, students, colleagues, and dear friends spanning more than 30 years of friendship.
The presences in the room moved between the veil between the worlds. “This room is filled with spirits,” my friends, Susan and Heidi, in the front row told me. “We felt them as soon as we came in.”
I begin readings and presentations with honoring the writing rhythms of Terry Tempest Williams by including a glass of water, representing invisible transformation occurring, and by lighting a candle, as does Isabel Allende, to invite the spirits to join.
“I haven’t even lit the candle yet,” I said.
“Well, they’re already here.”
Of course they are, I thought. They’ve been here all along, as I wrote this book. The veil continues to thin.
Our son, Luke, took a video of the first few minutes of MEADOWLARK’s Reading:
I woke in the middle of the night and wrote:
2:00 am and all asleep. The birthing rain continues to fall.
The book launch for MEADOWLARK was beyond my wildest hopes, a celebration of friends, family, and story. I included photos to bring life to the land and context of the prairie and on the ranch. As I spoke, read, and looked out onto the faces of the people gathered—my heart filled to overflowing with love. Thank you and thank you to those who shared this time together. You created magic.
A video I made for you about the book launch and a brief reading aloud:
What I have learned is that while writing itself is a solitary experience, the writing life is one of deep community. What brings the story to life are relationships. Without these relationships—between author and reader, reader and story, story and life—the story remains trapped and flat on the pages. It is the relationship that lifts the story from the single dimension of the pages and gives it color, life, dimensionality, roots, and wings.
From my heart, thank you.
A huge heart-felt thanks to Laura Mulry, Luke Wink-Moran, Casey Applegate-Aguilar, and Sharman King for providing the photos of this day.