I don’t even know how to start this. When I was little, we lived in L.A. Everything was within walking distance. The school, for instance. Two blocks away – long sides. An uncomplicated walk, it was not uphill and it never did involve snow—just sometimes torrential rains and huge, convulsing knots of drowning earthworms.
In the beginning, my mom walked to school with me. By “in the beginning” I don’t know if I mean my whole kindergarten year, or just the first time or two; my mom was an independent woman and she expected me to be an independent woman, too. Of course, I was only five years old at the time—but, hey.
The thing I am remembering is the first time I took that walk by myself. I imagine mom crossed the first street with me. Put my little feet on that first long sidewalk, turned my face schoolward and said, “See ya!!” I don’t remember how far I got. About a block, maybe. Or half a block. But at one point, I succumbed to terror and sentiment, the great indefinable size of the world and my own solitary smallness. I stopped, burst into tears, spun on my heel and began to run back the way I’d come. Ended up with my face buried in the dress of a total stranger, a girl maybe fourth grade or fifth. And there I adheared..
I still don’t know who she was, but I love her. She calmed me down, took my hand and walked me the rest of the way to school. What a woman she was.
I am remembering this, I think, because last night I did a thing very much like walking to school alone for the first time: I published my own book. Just me as publisher, I released my new book to the world through Amazon’s Kindle shop. And I was just as terrified doing that as I was–frozen in the middle of a sidewalk in LA a hundred years ago.
I’ve been published lots before. By companies. Companies with money and cover artists and editors all working on the book and validating it and pruning it along the way. I had to believe, even in my fits of artistic-minded collapse of self-confidence, that the book was worth taking up room on the planet—because they were willing to put money behind it. And they wouldn’t have done that out of any sense of altruism.
But this time, it’s just me.
And I am terrified.
What if the books stinks? How will I know till it’s too late? And if the book is good, how will anybody even know it’s out there? THIS IS SCARY.
And I miss Rosemary. Do you hear me girl? I MISS YOU.
My first editor was a wonderful, very proper English gentleman, George Bickersraff. He told me that in England, the philosophy of publishers had little to do with story editing. Copy editing, yes—grammar, spelling, punctuation—that kind of thing. But publishers there believed (at least, they did then) that the story belonged to the author—and they did not prune. For the good or the bad, the author was in charge of her own content. Reading Rowling, I suspect that this is still the way things go there.
But I have owed so much to the wisdom of George and Tonya and my Rosemary; hanging myself out there like this is—difficult.
I have stopped in the sidewalk several times in the last year. But there have always been solid angels behind me to catch me when I spin to run. Some of them simply love me into turning around. Rachel, my kids, Melissa Proffitt, Guy—and so many others. Some actually took me by the hand and walked me the rest of the way, like Laura and Tracey, without whom I would have left this manuscript and my confidence to languish in gray limbo. And without whom I would never have had the courage to attempt to unravel the very arcane path to this Kindle thing. They are magicians.
And Chaz—who held my hand last night. Well, not really, She sat in my chair and filled in all the blanks at Amazon while I stood behind her, afraid to watch.
It’s such a weird thing—being driven to tell stories, and then having the utter chutzpah to expect that anybody on the planet might—or even should be expected to read the things.
But there you are. And so I make the announcement—formally, with hope and trepidation:
Kristen D. Randle
Award winning author
Holder of the California Young Readers’ Medal
has just published her new book:
available here and Kindle-ready.
Please come. Please read. I hope you enjoy it.
Gahhh!!! My hands are just shaking.