Last week I met up with a group of my ladies and we headed to Watermark Books. The plan was to hear a popular writer speak about one of my favorite books while we shared some laughs and tried not to annoy the other patrons with our cackling. I got more than I bargained for.
When I say my ladies of course I’m referring to the women who make up my book club. I formed the club with my pal, Stacie. We knew we were kindred spirits when shortly after being introduced at a former book club, we were shunned for enjoying William P. Young’s “sob-inducing” book, The Shack. We plotted our defection immediately. It’s been over a year since we quietly gathered a group of friends, most of whom we met on Twitter and started our little sorority. I adore these women and I’m lucky enough to call a few of them, my very best friends.
This past summer we met to discuss Beth Hoffman’s debut novel Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. If you haven’t read it yet, well it’s #18 on the New York Times Best Seller list, y’all. What ARE you waiting for? I devoured this book. The part of me that has a deep and unwavering belief I was somehow related to fictitous character, Scarlett O’Hara in a past life, donned a hoop skirt, grabbed a parasol and sipped a Mint Julep whenever I escaped in to this wonderful story. Our book club voted it one of our favorites. . . EVER. I was so taken with the idea of strong self-sufficient women that I wrote my very first BookEndBabes Blog post around the idea of The Sisterhood.
Somehow my tiny mention of the women in CeeCee’s world made it across the desk of author, Beth Hoffman. Not only did she take the time to comment on the blog post, she gave me a little shout-out on Twitter too. She’s good like that. She takes the time to appreciate the people who appreciate her. A few weeks ago I found out Ms. Hoffman would be making a stop in Wichita on her book tour. When I told the ladies there was a resounding, “Weeee! *clap clap.” We warned Beth we would be waiting with hugs and more giggles than grown women should be allowed. She agreed to come anyway.
Before she recognized us as the little square avatars she’d been communicating with on Twitter, Beth walked up to the podium and shared her story. We learned about her whirlwind ascent to fame as a debut author, as well as, the long journey that got her there. As Beth spoke of her childhood on a rural farm, pretend friends she created, dreams that were stifled, her design business and the serious infection that almost took her life, she peppered her story with funny anecdotes and tears. This is a passionate woman. She is so grateful for a second chance to follow her dreams. It’s palpable. I’m a ridiculously emotional thing to begin with so I was already tearing up at her personal story. Then, the theme of her discussion hit home. At one point Beth looked in to the audience and said what most women know but we ignore anyway. She said we’re often so busy being wives, mamas and caretakers of others, we neglect our own passions. She looked in to the audience and pleaded with us not to give up on ourselves or our dreams.
As my friend Deena looked over and caught my teary eyes, I knew what she was thinking, “she’s talking to you, lady.” Over the last few years I’ve been slowly pursuing my passion to be a writer. As a full-time stay-home, work-at-home mama, the opportunity to write always came second to diaper-changing, tiny loads of laundry, games of Chutes and Ladders, mountains of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and late nights working as a medical transcriptionist or insurance document editor. Now that both kids are in school I’ve decided to dive in to the deep end of the writing pool, taking on freelance assignments and guest-blogging, but the self-doubt is always there, like a great white shark. Did you see what I did there? I made an analogy. It’s a thing writer’s do. Maybe there’s hope for me yet. If only I could get rid of the critical voice inside my brain-thing that says, “I’m too old. I have nothing to say. I have mediocre talent. I can’t find my perfect niche.” I. Am. Harsh.
Beth’s book tour speech was very emotional for me. I was vaklempt at her personal story, inspired by her pleas to go forth and pursue our dreams and finally, grateful to be there sharing the moment with friends. I even made a fool of myself by bursting in to tears during the question and answer session when I talked about how fiercely protective I am of these women. By the time Beth graciously signed books, gave hugs all around and even posed for countless photos, taken by my talented photog friend, Jennifer, I felt like I’d watched Steel Magnolias. So. Many. Tears.
It sounds cliché but I’ll never forget that night. Thank you, Beth Hoffman, for sharing your story, giving your time, letting some ladies in Kansas fawn all over you and thank you for Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. I do believe Aunt Tootie was right when she said, “. . . far too many people die with a heart that’s gone flat with indifference, and it surely must be a terrible way to go. Life will offer us amazing opportunities, but we’ve got to be wide awake to recognize them.” After listening to you that night, I know I’ll try a little harder to keep my eyes open.
A few more pics of my book-lovin babes. . . . . Stacie, Deena, Andrea, Kim, Janelle, Carly, Jen, Deb, Janice, Michelle and Pam. . . ladies, you have my heart!!