So it’s been about seven weeks since Saint Anything came out. In that time, I have been to seventeen cities in fourteen states. (This isn’t counting pre-tour, where I was in an additional five cities and two other states.) I’ve done a ton of readings, school visits and pizza parties. I saw the book hit the New York Times list, which is INCREDIBLY competitive these days, and hang on there for five weeks. I’ve gone from not knowing what to say about the book to having a well-honed 30 minute spiel I can basically recite on cue. I’ve met SO many readers, who waited patiently in line to tell me THEIR stories, one of my favorite parts about being on tour. I’ve been given donuts, cookies, necklaces, woven bracelets (Gerts!) and a lot of lollipops, not to mention enough cards and letters to fill a Ziplock gallon bag almost to the point where I can’t shut it.
I’ve cried because I was so tired, laughed because I so was tired, and just been SO TIRED. I’ve stayed in a hotel where they gave you soft slippers at night, one where someone ELSE’S dried, crusty washcloth fell on me when I pulled the shower curtain shut, and a dozen of various qualities in between. I met Chelsea Clinton, B.J. Novak and Jodi Picoult. I drank some little bottles of wine on planes (okay, many little bottles of wine on planes) and ate too many turkey sandwiches to count for breakfast, lunch, dinner and second dinner. I met girls who have been reading my books since middle school or high school and are now adults themselves. I have been lucky to see worn, SO loved copies of my backlist that have survived move after move, summer after summer, and the occasional coffee spill, dog chew or dunk in the pool. I am REVERENT about these copies, their folded down pages, their highlighted sentences, their ripped and soft covers. I’ve had girls tell me my books got them through high school, which is the GREATEST compliment, as it was books that helped me survive those same years. I’ve met mothers of my readers, boyfriends, husbands, best friends, children. It’s been the greatest thing, and I wouldn’t be able to explain what it was really like well even if I WASN’T so rusty at writing as I am right now.
All I can say is this: it meant the world to me, every bit, every person who came through the line with something to say because of something I wrote. It is the kind of thing I could have only dreamed of twenty years ago when I was rolling silverware at the hostess station at the Flying Burrito, listening to Tom Petty’s “Freefallin'” on the restaurant stereo and wondering if I’d ever really be a writer. I cannot believe I’ve been lucky enough to do this twelve times. As I sit here, on this hot Sunday afternoon in NC, I honestly can’t imagine doing it again. What could ever top this? And how do I even follow up something that has been so special?
These are the questions I’ll be mulling over in the coming weeks. It is my hope that during that time, Saint Anything will continue out in the world fine without me promoting it constantly. I’m proud of the book and all my publisher and I did to get it noticed. I can’t lie: I know I’ll write again, because I have to. I’ve already been on the biggest writing break of my life and it’s making me crazy nervous. But I’m not sure what it is that I do next will look like. I never am, though. Almost twenty years and twelve books in, the writing is always the thing that surprises me. I can’t wait to see what it does this time.
Thank you EVERYONE for your support of Saint Anything, my backlist, and me. There’s a reason I dedicated the book to you. Thanks for listening.