When I was 17 years old, a lovely English teacher told me to read Anna Karenina.
It’s very tragic and very dense and very “complicated,” in that way that makes you think, “This book must be a lot smarter than me, because I don’t really get what’s happening.”
I read it. As instructed. And then I wrote an essay that probably included the words “thusly” and “heretofore” way too many times.
And then I grew up + started writing books of my own.
After I wrote my first novel — which I awkwardly shared with my mom, my dad, and just a handful of friends — at age twenty-two, the people who loved me said: “That’s amazing! You did it!”
I said, “Yeah, well … It’s not exactly Anna Karenina.”
After I got my first book published — a sweet little collection of ‘thank you’ notes, with illustrations — at age twenty-eight, the nice folks at my launch party said: “It’s so cute! Great job!”
I said, “Thanks, but … It’s not like it’s Anna Karenina.”
After my second book came out — a daily journal for couples to share, together — an interviewer asked me how on earth I was able to write it in just a couple of days.
I said, “C’mon. It’s just a little journal. There’s barely even any text, in it!”
And just recently, after releasing a sneak peek at my next book — a sultry erotic novel, loosely based on my real life — friends + fans have gushed, telling me, “It’s soooo hot! More! When? And how the hell did you write it in just three weeks?!”
To which I’ve replied, “Well, hey … It’s just mindless entertainment, right? No big deal.”
And then I remembered something a friend said to me, once, after watching me downsize my joy in front of a room full of people:
“Stop doing that,” she said. “We want to be happy for you, and … you’re making it harder.”
Thanks to her words, I’ve remembered:
The world needs Anna Karenina AND Fifty Shades of Grey AND Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood AND Beyonce’s latest album AND your blog AND my books AND your cousin Patricia’s open-mic night poetry, too.
Whatever you’re making?
And whatever you do?
And let us be happy with you.
PS. What have you made lately that you’re REALLY proud of? (Share, down below. And don’t you DARE diminish your glee!)