It's been almost a year since THE LOSER'S GUIDE TO LIFE AND LOVE came out--and I've had ample opportunity to reflect on what publishing a book does and does not do for you. On the one hand, it's satisfying to see your words in print. It really is. And my hope is that all the writers I love and admire who haven't published yet will have that experience because it's a good one.
On the other hand, publishing a novel does not magically make your whole life better. It doesn't make you skinnier or more physically fit or more patient with your kids. Your teeth don't automatically get whiter and your hair more manageable. It doesn't stop bills from landing in your mailbox or library books from being overdue or parking meters from running out of minutes. Publishing doesn't make the high school stop calling you to inform you that your teenagers were tardy to or absent from one or more class periods. It doesn't make the lines at the grocery store shorter when you're in a hurry or prevent other drivers from cutting you off on the freeway. Publishing doesn't make you smarter with your money. In fact, except in very rare cases (think Stephenie Meyer), it hardly even makes you richer.
Do you catch my drift here? A writer is still Cinderella before the Fairy Godmother shows up. So the point is to live (and write!) happily in the skin you have now because, seriously, it doesn't change much even when a book comes out. And that's okay.
On the food front, today while we were eating breakfast, I asked my kids why apple slices don't taste as good as bacon. Because they don't. Not even with caramel. That's another thing publishing a novel doesn't change. Who cares if you win the Newbery? An apple slice is still just an apple slice.