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With Gratitude from New York City

It’s 10:30 on Wednesday night and I’m sitting alone in my friend’s apartment near Times Square listening to cabs honking outside and the low rumble of garbage trucks moving up and down the street. Everything about this place and these sounds bring back a hundred familiar memories, except today was a day unlike any other so familiarity in the face of such newness simply becomes something to feel comforted by.

I walked into the Penguin offices down on Hudson Street in the West Village a few minutes after 10 this morning, running late, something only characteristic of me since becoming a mother. I buzzed past the display case of bestselling books and into the embrace of my waiting editor who has become more of a friend than an editor these days. The rest of the day was nothing if not a whirlwind.

There was breakfast in the conference room where I met about two dozen Penguin employees, all of whom have read my book and are doing something vital to support it and bring it into the world. I got teared up on more than one occasion as I shook hands and said thank you in response to the kind of compliments a writer could only dream about. They even made me sign copies of my book for them, which embarrassed me to no end (and not just because of my terrible signature).

After that it was off in a cab with my editor and two other Penguiners to lunch in Union Square with some people from Barnes & Noble. Okay, here I go with the tears again as I write this.

Ten years ago I was an incredibly sad young woman working as a bartender in Union Square. I often took double shifts in order to make rent and on those days I would sit outside in the square and look across at the Barnes & Noble and I would vow that I wouldn’t be a bartender forever, that I would rise above it all, that I would get out of this place and that I would really become a writer, that I would see my book on shelves and that one day I would walk past the restaurant where I worked for so long with my head held high.

Today I sat at lunch in the W Hotel with people who believe in me and who love my book and in stolen moments, between conversation, I could almost see through the window to the 23 year old me sitting there in Union Square on her break. Dirty uniform, cigarette in hand, heart broken with grief and confusion. I wanted to whisper across time and space to her — it’s going to happen, you really will get out of there. One day you won’t be so lonely. You won’t be so sad. You’ll be a wife and a mother and you’ll be a real writer with a book that people love.

And I think that maybe, just maybe, 23 year old me somewhere, sometime, must have heard me whisper those things. Because that’s the only way I could have persisted all this time. It’s the only way I could have gone through all the rejections and terrible days, the revisions and bad drafts and sad, sad mornings.

It’s the only way I could have made it as far as to find myself saying thank you to the people who have chosen me for Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program in Spring 2012.

That’s my big news that I’ve been wanting to share. I’ve been picked for a Spring 2012 selection of B&N’s Discover Great New Writers program. My book will be on a special shelf in the front of every B&N in the country for three months. I’ll be in the company of writers who have graced my bookshelves and the bestseller lists more times than I can count. I’ll also be contributing some original content that will be available only to Nook users for the More in Store promotion.

So I sit here, exhausted and overwhelmed in the most pleasant way possible, trying to process all that happened today and all that lies ahead. More than anything I just feel gratitude. I’m grateful to the people who have read my words and understood what it is I’m trying to say. I’m grateful for the people who have believed in me and who have believed in this book. And I’m grateful to my 23 year old self for not giving up when it seemed like what I was dreaming of might just be impossible.



  1. Ok, deep breath, gather my thoughts through a drippy fog of happy tears…I am so happy for you. This post had me sitting beside you at 23, the winds of contentment blowing from now to the you back then. You are so deserving of the fortune and accolades and shelf space being given. Your writing is rich and your loved ones enriched by your presence. Thanks for the tears so early in the day!

    I have long had a vision of buying your book at Barnes…and now I envision it nestled on a special shelf. I will tell the clerk that I know you. It will be a momentous day. Maybe we could all send you our pictures as we buy the book…all around the world…our joy and your success all rolled together. Wouldn’t that be fun, fellow readers???

    Comment by Ambee on November 3, 2011 at 8:26 am

  2. Oh joyous day! xoxox

    Comment by Tricia on November 3, 2011 at 9:23 am

  3. What an amazing, fabulous, well deserved moment for you! As I long time reader I had no doubts that one day others would see what so many of us already knew. That you are a remarkably talented writer. I have a feeling this will be only one of the incredible adventures ahead for you with this book and the many, many more books to come! I agree with Amber, it would be great fun to celebrate your success by posting pics of all of us buying your book at stores across the world!

    Comment by Wendy on November 3, 2011 at 9:40 am

  4. Wow wow wow! You’re not just on the way, you are there! Congratulations!

    Comment by Lisa Lilienthal on November 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

  5. Wow!!!! Congratulations! What a thrill!!! You believed in your dream and made it come true. Inspiration for us all to dream it and manifest it. I can’t wait to see it at our local B&N!! I plan to purchase it there when it comes out; and I’ll be sure to send out a little congrats to you into the wind.

    Comment by Megan on November 3, 2011 at 11:01 am

  6. Congratulations, Claire. You are so inspiring.

    Comment by Nicole on November 3, 2011 at 11:42 am

  7. Lovely post Claire! It was so full of gratitude it made my heart swell for you! Don’t forget you worked really really hard to get where you are too! So you deserve this and really, you deserve to be selected for the Great New Writer’s program. Congratulations and can’t wait to read your book! Hope they send you up to Canada for a book tour!

    Comment by Lori Webber on November 3, 2011 at 11:45 am

  8. Congratulations, Claire. What comes to mind is a sense of monumental awe – yours in describing these events, and mine in your perseverance. It’s fun to read about you enjoying all these moments!

    Comment by Kerstin on November 3, 2011 at 1:28 pm

  9. I have the chills! Congratulations, it is so well deserved!

    Comment by Liz on November 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm

  10. Wow, Claire…beautiful, inspiring and SO well deserved. Sending massive congratulations your way. I hope I get to meet you when you come to Australia – I just want to give you a huge hug! :)

    Comment by Ellie on November 3, 2011 at 3:02 pm

  11. [...] It’s been a busy week here with lots of congratulations going around.   Claire Bidwell Smith‘s amazing memoir THE RULES OF INHERITANCE (Hudson Street/Penguin- February 2, 2012) has been named a B&N Spring 2012 Discover Pick.  Claire wrote this very moving post on her blog: [...]

    Pingback by Wendy Sherman Associates Literary Management | Congratulations to all! on November 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm

  12. Oh, Claire, what a lovely post. I hardly read a post of yours without crying. I can’t imagine what this all must feel like. I know we don’t know each other, but I am sure you are so very deserving of all this good fortune. You have worked hard to get here, and you should be so proud of yourself. I know your parents would be.

    Can’t wait to purchase your book at B&N!

    Heartfelt congratulations!! So inspiring to see someone see their dreams come true.

    Comment by Lynne on November 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm

  13. When I read your blog, you give voice to thoughts and feelings I didn’t realize I had. I hope my future self is living out my dreams and knowing that the best times are coming up around the corner.

    Comment by Carolyn on November 3, 2011 at 8:13 pm

  14. Oh Claire! I teared up reading this. So much wonderful news for you. I fills me with so much happiness that all these things are happening for you. I really can’t wait to read your book, and hopefully to meet you when you’re in Australia.

    Such a beautiful image, the present-day you whispering across time to the 23-year-old you. I think you must have known all along that you could do this, and I for one am glad you allowed yourself to believe it. Congratulations.

    Comment by Sophie on November 3, 2011 at 9:08 pm

  15. Congrats Claire!! I am beyond thrilled for you!!

    Comment by Vanessa on November 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm

  16. FANTASTIC!!!!!!

    Comment by Aeshna on November 3, 2011 at 10:28 pm

  17. YAY!! Congrats, Claire! :)

    Comment by Liz on November 4, 2011 at 3:19 am

  18. Dreams do come true!! Congratulations!!

    Comment by Chris on November 4, 2011 at 7:24 am

  19. Claire — It was a real pleasure to meet you on wednesday. We’re all rooting hard for you and your wonderful memoir that touched us all so much.
    All best,

    Comment by Paul Deykerhoff on November 4, 2011 at 7:35 am

  20. Loved to read this. can’t wait to purchase your book!

    Comment by Erin @ small things on November 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm

  21. I found out a couple of months ago about your blog, and have been reading it. I can’t wait until the book comes out to read it. I know your Dad and Mom would be so proud of you. The last time we saw each orther was at Granny Louise’s Funeral in Roger City. I have a picture of you giving my daughter (Laurie) a piggy back ride! I love looking at all your pictures. Your daughter is so beautiful I hope one day to meet her, your husband and to see you again.
    Love, your cousin,

    Comment by Nancy (Smith) Stetter on November 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm

  22. What a beautiful post. Claire, I am so happy for you!

    Comment by Amy on November 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm

  23. This is really nice. I wish every 23-year-old version of everyone could know, deep down, that they can make it happen.

    Comment by Nathan on November 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

  24. [...] I had too much I wanted to say. After finally coaxing out a full first draft, I came to read this post of Claire’s. She’s written before about having a sense of past lives within the [...]

    Pingback by Gratitude, Writing, Future and Past Selves | avocado and lemon on November 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm

  25. [...] In early November, in the throes of morning sickness, I flew to New York for three incredible days of book publication stuff. [...]

    Pingback by Claire Bidwell Smith » 2011: Year in Photos on January 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

  26. Congratulations on all your blessings and hard work. I just signed on to work with Wendy Sherman to publish my first novel. I hope we get to meet someday. I am wildly happy for your success. Ten years ago I was holding a colicky baby and thinking between her screams, “Well, there goes my writing. I will never have another organized thought or a minute of my own time again.” A decade later, it was that screaming little girl and her baby sister who gave me the patience and experience and emotion to put my story on paper. I am so grateful for the struggles. And so thankful for what they produce!
    Keep flying.

    Comment by Regina on February 1, 2012 at 4:27 am

  27. Ah, I totally relate and agree Regina!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 6, 2012 at 5:32 am

  28. Claire, I can imagine how you must have felt through the trials of life to accomplishing so much with your book. I am also writing one, a memoir of sorrow and grief ,and trying to overcome obstacles. Now I have to get your book. Cannot wait to read it.

    Comment by Danise Wallace on September 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm

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