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On Looking for Grace

It’s late on Monday night (well, late for me) and I’m sitting here thinking about this week and all that’s to come. My book comes out in three days. In four days I’m due to read from it in front of 50 or more people at Book Soup in Hollywood. In six days I fly to New York for the better part of a week to record my audio book. In another dozen days I’ll fly back to New York for another reading. In three weeks the Australian version of my book comes out. In six weeks time I’ll have traveled to ten places to read from my book.

I can’t sleep at night anymore. I mean, I fall asleep okay but then if something wakes me up — the cats, or Vera — I can’t fall back asleep. No matter what time it is my mind just clicks on and starts whirring away, a thousand things swirling past my closed eyes. Emails and bills and fears and hopes.

And then, right there in the dark, the baby kicks in my tummy and I’m set off on a whole other tangent. Shifting from what my life is going to be like as the author of a very personal memoir, to what my life is going to be like as a mother of two.

Then it’s 3:13AM and I’ve been wide awake in the dark for an hour and a half.

Every morning when I wake up the first thing I do when I step out of bed is a sun salutation. I reach my arms up as high as I can, stretching my whole body in one quiet request for grace, and then I step into my day. I’m never sure how far grace follows me past the little rug at my bedside table though. Some days much more than others, I know for sure.

This week that’s all I want. A little grace. Grace in these stressful last days leading up to publication. Grace on Friday night as I stand before friends and family and read from this book that I quite literally birthed from my being. Grace on Sunday when I have to leave my daughter for five days, longer than I ever have. Grace throughout the coming months as people read and respond to my book.

When I first set out to write this book, to really give it life and and intention to one day be part of the world, I made myself really think hard about what I wanted from it. At first I had to push past all the things that have been consuming me lately — the idea of advances, book tours, Entertainment Weekly mentions, and the sight of something I made on a shelf in a store — and push and push until I got to the thing I really wanted, and still want, from this book.

Which is this:

I want this to be a book that touches people, even just a little bit. I want this to be a book that makes someone feel a little less alone. A little less confused. A little less sad.

When I was going through some of my hardest years, especially the ones following my mother’s death, I read everything I could by people who had been through something similar. And those books mattered to me. They really did touch me. Every time I uncovered another shared experience a tiny sliver of light shone through a crack in the dark and, even if it was just for a moment, I felt a little braver, and a little less alone.

That’s all I want. For my book to do the same.

I think as long as I keep that in mind this week, as long as I take a deep breath every morning, as long as I remember what it is I set out to do, I’ll make it through this.

Hopefully with a little grace.

I took this picture of myself 8 months ago in Chicago. At the time I didn’t like it at all, but I came across it recently and thought it was beautiful.

It’s funny how much we grow when we’re not paying attention. I feel like I should take a picture of myself again this week. A reminder that even when in doubt, we’re probably doing better than we think.

12 Comments

  1. Golly gosh Claire, when will you be in Oz for I cannot wait to meet you! I have been following your blog since 2007. Cheers, Emma

    Comment by Emma on January 31, 2012 at 2:30 am

  2. That was a nice post by CJane!! Looking forward to the 2nd!! That is a beautiful picture by the way!! Enjoy this exciting time in your life!!

    Comment by Chris on January 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm

  3. Thanks, Chris! It’s all so exciting!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm

  4. Oh, thank you Emma! Hopefully in Oz in August/September! Stay tuned…

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on January 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm

  5. It is a lovely picture, Claire. And, Yes!, you should take a picture of yourself tomorrow, the day your book is released! Claire, you write with more grace than any other I have read. I have no doubt at all that your book will do just exactly what you hope for it. Can’t wait to read it. I hope you wake up tomorrow refreshed and feeling blanketed in grace and peace.

    Comment by Lynne on January 31, 2012 at 5:59 pm

  6. I got your book today!!

    Comment by Cathy on January 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm

  7. hi Claire, I found you via CJane’s blog, and just watched the little author video too. I’m in Australia, and will definitely buy your book when it comes out. I hope you are booked for the Brisbane Writers’ Festival, that would be awesome! Good luck with all your upcoming author events, I am looking forward to reading your book. And good luck with your next baby too – we’ve been very blessed with two beautiful girls, they are best buddies. Take care, Catherine

    Comment by Catherine on January 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm

  8. My book should be here tomorrow! It’s so exciting and I can relate on so many levels to what you say about what you want for your book to be or to say — it is easy to get caught up in the attention, or the competition, but in the end it is really about making that connection, about sharing your experience, about helping someone else in the journey. What I have read thus far says you do that in spades!

    Comment by Lisa Lilienthal on February 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

  9. Can’t wait to hear what you think, Lisa!

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

  10. Thank you, Catherine! Fingers are crossed for Brisbane!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 6, 2012 at 5:33 am

  11. Yay, looking forward to hearing what you think Cathy!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 6, 2012 at 5:33 am

  12. Thanks, Lynne!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on February 6, 2012 at 5:34 am

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