It’s the end of another calendar year, the time before Christmas, when people scramble to buy gifts. It’s the time when book lists appear, summarizing the best and brightest, the funniest, the biggest breakthrough titles published during the same year. My debut mystery, Idyll Threats, was published in September. Each time a list appears in which my book might appear I scan the list, eyes avid, heart hungry for recognition. When I do not see my name or my book’s title, my body slumps and anger supplants the blood in my veins.
Lists I have scanned recently include:
Best Mysteries of 2015
Best LGBT Fiction of 2015
12 Women Authors You Missed.
Top 15 Thrillers
On none of them does my name appear.
A small voice inside me whispers, “Wouldn’t the editors let you know you’re going to be included on the list before they print it?” My big voice says, “Shut up. Maybe they forgot. Or didn’t have my email address.”
Envy is nasty. It chews at you, devouring fragile parts of your ego and tender spots of goodness you’d do better to keep intact. So I am resolving not to read any more lists. They bring me no joy.
Instead, I will focus on all the things this Year of the Book gave to me. Below is a (partial) list I created of wonderful things this year gave me. Reading this list makes me feel grateful and loved.
Wonderful Things Related to the Publication of Idyll Threats
Good reviews on blogs, websites, and in bookstores
People who took the time to tell me they liked my writing
Booksellers who read Idyll Threats, who let me read at their stores, and who decorated the stores with props taken from my book
My agent, who made sure I had ‘play dates’ with other authors at major conferences
People at MIT (my employer) who supported my arts career
My copyeditor, who made my book better, and created a style sheet for my series that saves me oodles of time
My partner, for telling me how proud he is of my achievement
Other mystery authors who were so kind to me and helped teach me the ropes
My editor, who improved my book a hundredfold
The authors who agreed to read with me at events
The fancy cocktail party I attended, courtesy of a prior interview
Having my photo in the Society pages of a newspaper because of said cocktail party
Making Twitter friends
Hosting my launch in one of the most beautiful Cambridge events spaces
Seeing my name on a book cover, again
Getting a “key” to the fictional town of Idyll
Audiences who asked insightful questions and laughed at my jokes
Writer friends who took on promoting my book as if it was their second job
Reading with a classmate at another classmate’s house
Meeting mystery legends at events
Talking murder with other writers, as one does
People asking when the next Thomas Lynch book is coming
This isn’t a complete list. Not nearly. And if you scanned it, looking for your name, I apologize. Believe me when I say, I haven’t forgotten you. Thank you.
The thing to do then is finish the next book, and the next. Because the goal of writing is not to make a “best of” list. The goal of writing is to produce a finished work. I’ll try to remember that, and to be grateful to everyone who makes that goal a little easier for me to achieve.